Contractors will begin hazmat removal at the Dale administrative site on Wednesday, Sept. 5. The hazmat removal work is the first phase in the overall project to remove 14 buildings at the Dale administrative and is anticipated to be ongoing until Sept. 30, according to a press release.
Prior to demolishing the buildings, licensed contractors will be remediating lead base paint, asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyl (also known as PCBs, which are chemicals found in some light fixtures) and buried heating oil tanks in order to prepare the site for the demolition.
The demolition work is scheduled to occur tentatively from Sept. 15 to Nov. 30. Portions of the buildings have already been removed and repurposed at other Forest Service sites. The Forest will also conduct future rehabilitation work by removing the waste water system, including the water system building, as funding becomes available.
After the building removal work has been completed, the areas with soil disturbance will be planted with native species. The restored site will provide the public with increased opportunities for accessing the National Forest, including camping, hiking and enjoying the nearby North Fork John Day River.
The Dale administrative site is located on Hwy 395 approximately 1 mile north of Dale and 65 miles south of Pendleton. The land consists of about 37 acres and is also located within the North Fork John Day Wild and Scenic River corridor.
For more than 40 years, Dale served as both a district office and compound, as well as housing area for Forest Service employees. The compound consisted of 17 structures (including the Ranger Station, 11 houses, two townhouses, a bunkhouse and storage facilities) and a water and sewer treatment plant. In 1984, the Oregon Wilderness Act was passed and a large portion of the Dale Ranger District land base became part of the newly-created North Fork John Day Wilderness. Following this, the Dale Ranger District combined with the Ukiah Ranger District to form the North Fork John Day Ranger District. The new ranger district was located in Ukiah and Dale became a work center, providing housing for permanent and seasonal employees, as well as storage.
In 2002, the forest made the decision to close the site, based on declining facilities budgets, growing deferred and annual maintenance costs and the need to replace the water system. Permanent and seasonal employees continued to use the family housing until the summer of 2005 when the water and sewer systems were shut down permanently.
After closing the site, the Forest Service entered into discussions about transferring the ownership of the site to Grant County. Additionally, the forest received some local interest from private parties in acquiring the Dale administrative site. However, all those efforts fell through. In 2016, when the forest listed the 10 buildings for sale through a bidding process, no bids were submitted. Because of this and the cumulative degrading condition of the buildings, the Forest Service is moving forward with removing the buildings and rehabilitating the site. This decision will allow the forest to focus funding and resources on maintaining the rest of the important infrastructure the agency needs to manage the public’s land.
The North Fork John Day Ranger District currently houses more than 30 permanent and 50 seasonal employees. The district continues to actively manage the landscape, working closely with surrounding communities to provide a variety of products and services including forest products (such as timber and firewood), recreational opportunities, grazing permits, active mining claims, scenic views and more.
For more information on the Dale compound removal, contact Shaun Oliver at 541-278-3957. Additional information on the Umatilla National Forest is available at fs.usda.gov/umatilla.