Daily Sitka Sentinel

White Sulphur Project Open for New Ideas

    The U.S. Forest Service is asking for public comments on a new proposal to replace the White Sulphur bathhouse, instead of removing it.
    The original decision by Tongass Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole on Aug. 10, 2011, followed 89 comments from people all over the country. It called for removing the bathhouse, and rebuilding the cabin at the springs, 65 miles northwest of Sitka. {mosimage}
    But comments submitted during the 45-day appeals process last fall caused Cole to withdraw his decision related to removal of the bathhouse and conduct a new analysis to consider the uses of the bathhouse for health and safety reasons, and for cultural and traditional uses.
    The new proposed action (Alternative 1) released on March 5 by Cole calls for replacing the bathhouse. Other alternatives will be considered as well:
    – a “no action” alternative with minimal maintenance and eventual removal of the bathhouse due to deterioration of the structure.
    – removal of the bathhouse and replacing it with an uncovered outdoor pool.
    A legal notice was published March 9 in the Sentinel, and the public has 30 days – until April 8 – to submit comments.
    White Sulphur is a popular spot with fishermen, boaters and campers, and is located in the West Chichagof Wilderness Area. The cabin is reserved 86 nights a year and is the ninth highest-used cabin in the ranger district, agency officials said. An estimated 900 people a year use the bathhouse, including 82 guided clients.
    The original decision called for removing the bathhouse, installing an outdoor pool and replacing the cabin within 30 feet of its present site. Also, a new woodshed would be built, and the trail reconstructed using native materials. Because the site is in a designated wilderness area, no motorized tools may be used in the project.
    The Forest Service is now proposing removing the Panabode style bathhouse, and replacing it with a new bathhouse of similar size and on the same site as the current building. The original bathhouse was built in 1966, and is in poor structural condition.
    The Forest Service described the proposed bathhouse as rustic in style with large timbers supporting the roof. The siding is proposed to be rough-cut yellow cedar with wood frame windows, including large sliding windows facing the ocean. The roof is to be made of a material that lets in light, the Forest Service said.
    The proposed plan also calls for building a soaking pool in the current location, and replacing the existing holding tank with a mortared stone basin.
    “In all alternatives, the Forest Service proposes mitigating the loss of the historic bathhouse by photo documenting the building and holding tank,” the Forest Service said. “A copy of the photo documentation including all existing carvings on the bathhouse interior will be displayed in a binder at the White Sulpher Springs cabin. In the proposed alternative a privacy screen to create a changing area will be built in the new bathhouse reusing carved siding from the existing building.”
    Those with questions may call Annemarie LaPalme, cabin and trail manager for the Sitka Ranger District, at 747-4209.
    Comments may be submitted several ways, by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; in writing to District Ranger Carol Goularte, Attn. White Sulphur, Sitka Ranger District, 204 Siginaka Way, Sitka, AK 99835; by phone 747-4218; or by fax at 747-4253. Comments can also be given in person, during normal business office at the local office on Siginaka Way, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.

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