EDITORIAL: Sperry Chalet worth trying to rebuild

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There’s a lot of love out there for Sperry Chalet, the historic backcountry lodge that was destroyed by the Sprague Fire the evening of Aug. 31.

A vow to rebuild the beloved chalet already has risen from the ashes. Glacier National Park Conservancy has set up a special “Sperry Action Fund” to raise money to help cover the costs. And U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said rebuilding Sperry is one of his top priorities.

It’s still too early to know if the chalet could be rebuilt using the remaining stone shell, though, or whether the reconstruction would have to start from scratch. Glacier Park is assessing the damage to determine what future options might be. An engineering firm, the same one that consulted on repairs to Sperry Chalet after an avalanche damaged the 1904 building in 2011, is advising park officials on an emergency stabilization plan as winter looms.

It will be a tall order gathering the money it will take to restore or replace the 103-year-old backcountry building. Such an endeavor would cost millions, no doubt, considering the remote location. The site is accessible only by trail, on foot or horseback. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.

What is certain at this point is that Sperry Chalet holds a special place in the heart of so many. Glacier Park Conservancy Executive Director Doug Mitchell said hundreds of people already have responded to the nonprofit’s call for aid by adding their names to the list of those interested in supporting future work at the chalet.

Even the day after the fire, Mitchell assured that the conservancy would “marshal the troops and do what we can to help.”

Given that the original kitchen and dining room building at Sperry still stands as an important part of the chalet infrastructure, along with a maintenance facility and restrooms, it makes sense to pursue a rebuild of the lodge.

If you’re so inclined to help, donations may be made online at glacier.org or mailed to Glacier National Park Conservancy, P.O. Box 2749, Columbia Falls, MT 59912.

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