Funds to rebuild lodge at Ridge will not be in ’25 federal budget

The spirit is there to rebuild the Hurricane Ridge Day Lodge destroyed last May, but the money isn’t yet, Olympic National Park Superintendent Sula Jacobs told the Clallam County commissioners.

“There’s still no funding to build a permanent facility,” Jacobs told commissioners during their May 6 work session.

“My boss and my boss’s boss are committed to a permanent facility,” she said. “We know everybody is clearly for it, we are just waiting.”

The 70-year-old, 12,201-square-foot building at Hurricane Ridge, which had been undergoing an $11 million rehabilitation, burned to the ground May 7, 2023, leaving only chimneys and smoking wreckage after a ranger found it engulfed in flames that afternoon.

Firefighters from Clallam 2 Fire-Rescue and Port Angeles Fire Department arrived shortly thereafter to find the building had collapsed onto its foundations.

“It’s not in the (fiscal year 2025) budget,” Jacobs said regarding funding to rebuild the lodge.

The federal government’s fiscal year runs from April 1, 2024, to March 31, 2025.

Jacobs said she was talking with National Parks Service Regional Director David Szymanski last week about Hurricane Ridge.

“He’s been on the phone to the people in Washington,” she said. “It’s not forgotten. It’s 1 million percent on everyone’s radar screens. Everybody is ready and able.”

Jacobs also said Hurricane Ridge is in a bad spot for construction. It has a small window of time to complete outside of the building. It’s also located next to the wilderness and there are tunnels on the road to get there.

“The construction window is minutely small until we get the outside finished,” Jacobs said.

Hurricane Ridge itself is open, she said.

“There’s bathrooms. The same trailer type is there and operational, but that is all,” Jacobs said. “If anything goes wrong, it all goes wrong. We should anticipate, as a whole community, Hurricane Ridge is still in a tentative state. Anything that goes awry, it really will go awry.”

Reopening Hurricane Ridge permanently is a “three-part dance,” Jacobs said.

The first part was the portable toilets, which were pretty easy to do this winter, she said. The second will be an interim physical structure. The third will be the actual structure.

Although rebuilding the lodge means finding out how we see it now, not how we saw it 30 years ago, Jacobs added.

“We need to find out what people want and what they see from it,” she said. “We need to get appropriations devoted to Hurricane Ridge, then I can start. I need to hear, ‘Here’s the money, do the design or do the design and build.’”