PENDLETON — Contractors have started removing the final remaining infrastructure at the Dale administrative site, including utilities, water system, waste water system, water system building, a warehouse and two outbuildings, according to a press release from the Umatilla National Forest.
The work, which started Monday, June 1, is the final phase in the overall project to remove 14 buildings at the Dale administrative site, which is located on Highway 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.
The planned work includes decommissioning the water system building, removing the waste water system infrastructure, and rehabilitating the sewage lagoon, the release said. Contractors will conduct hazmat abatement on the water system building prior to demolition.
In order to rehabilitate the sewage lagoon, contractors plan to drain the contents through land application on site. The biosolids from the sewage lagoon contain valuable nutrients and the application has been coordinated through the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Once the sewage lagoon is emptied, contractors will pull the liners, fill in the lagoon and reseed the area with native plants.
The public is asked to avoid the area until all work activities have been completed. Once completed, 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.
Prior to the demolition work, portions of the buildings were removed and repurposed at other Forest Service sites. Flooring has been reused at cabin rentals at the historic Fremont Powerhouse and cabinets were transferred to the Tupper Guard Station.
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 decision was made 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 2005 when the water and sewer systems were shut down permanently.