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OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK National Park Service Department of the Interior

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
Olympic National Park
600 East Park Avenue
Port Angeles, Washington 98362-6798

November 1, 2002

Dear Interested Party,

Olympic National Park is preparing two Environmental Assessments (EAs), both involving proposals to rehabilitate or replace structures in the park's backcountry wilderness. We are interested in your thoughts and concerns about these proposals, and the range of issues you think should be considered. Your input will be used during development of the two Environmental Assessments, which will examine and analyze impacts associated with each proposal along with alternatives to these proposals.

1.) Rehabilitate Two Storm-Damaged Historic Shelters Olympic National Park is proposing to repair two storm-damaged historic shelters in Olympic National Park's backcountry wilderness. Both the Low Divide shelter and the Home Sweet Home shelter failed due to extreme snow conditions during the winters of 1998 and 1999. These two shelters were built in 1935 and have both been determined to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Structures.

According to National Park Service Management Policies, "Historic structures damaged or destroyed by fire, storm, earthquake, war, or any other accident may be preserved as ruins; be removed; or be rehabilitated, restored, or reconstructed in accordance with these policies." Similarly, the Park is responsible for protecting and preserving the character of the wilderness, and determining tools that will cause the minimum disruption and have the least impacts on wilderness character and resources.

With those considerations in mind, Olympic National Park is proposing to rehabilitate the fallen historic shelters by transporting two completed replicas via heavy lift helicopter to Low Divide and Home Sweet Home in August or September 2003, depending on helicopter availability. To minimize impacts to the Olympic wilderness, the two shelters were built outside wilderness boundaries in the park's Elwha utility yard using purchased materials rather than native materials. Historically, park structures were often repaired by using native materials in the local vicinity, causing more long-term damage to natural resources and wilderness character.

Another alternative under consideration is to disassemble the replica shelters into smaller pieces that could be easily transported by smaller helicopters, to reduce noise impacts to Threatened and Endangered species. The pieces would then be reassembled on site. A third alternative would involve using native materials on site. The "no action" alternative would consist of not replacing the shelters.

2.) Replace Two Storm-Damaged Trail Bridges Olympic National Park is proposing to replace the Graves Creek trailhead bridge and the Enchanted Valley bridge. Both bridges provide important cross-park access to pristine wilderness areas of Olympic National Park. The purpose of this proposal is to develop safe and sustainable crossing of Graves Creek and the East Fork of the Quinault River for stock animals and hikers. This action is needed because the previously existing bridges were unsafe. The Enchanted Valley bridge failed in 1998 and 1999 due to heavy snow and poor engineering, while the Graves Creek bridge is in the process of being removed. The Graves Creek bridge has been condemned as unsafe.

Olympic National Park is proposing to replace these bridges by transporting self-weathering steel tube bridges via heavy lift helicopter to their locations in August or September 2003, depending on helicopter availability. Self-weathering steel tubes are the recommended material for the often extreme weather conditions of the Olympic Peninsula. After placement of the steel beams, the bridge decking and handrails would be added onsite.

Another alternative under consideration includes using lighter construction materials that could be easily transported by smaller helicopters, to reduce noise impacts to Threatened and Endangered species. A third alternative would involve using native materials on site. The "no action" alternative would involve not replacing the bridges.

Please send your comments no later than December 6, 2002, to the park's Planning Coordinator at Olympic National Park, 600 East Park Avenue, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or by email to olym_ea@nps.gov. If you have questions about these proposals, or would like to learn more about either or both of them, please call (360) 565- 3009.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

David K. Morris
Superintendent

Olympic National Park, 600 East Park Avenue, Port Angeles, Washington 98362


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