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Forest Service: Sorry for work on cabin

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Forest Service: Sorry for work on cabin

Postby ERIC » Wed Dec 09, 2009 11:38 am

Forest Service: Sorry for work on cabin

By Dana M. Nichols
Record Staff Writer
December 05, 2009 12:00 AM ... 0ftj3k.we5

BEAR VALLEY - Eldorado National Forest supervisor Ramiro Villalvazo this week apologized for damage his staff did to the historic Monte Wolfe cabin in the Mokelumne Wilderness north of Bear Valley and promised to repair the holes left when a forest crew removed the cabin's door and stovepipe in late October.

"I am sorry this happened," Villalvazo said in a written statement.

But that doesn't mean conflict between Monte Wolfe Cabin preservationists and the forest is over. The preservationists want repairs soon, before additional snowfall causes more damage. Forest officials say the work will wait until conditions are safe.

"I think it is just another tactic so the cabin will become more damaged," said Kyle Krause, a building inspector and member of the Monte Wolfe Society who had offered his help in making the repairs.

Monte Wolfe, who evaded law enforcement for years and lived alone in the wilderness through the deep snows of winter in the 1920s and 1930s, is a folk legend of sorts in the central Sierra Nevada. Although he had a criminal past and although Monte Wolfe wasn't his real name, he also built a large network of friends, and the descendants of some of those friends have preserved his cabin for decades.

Members of the nonprofit Monte Wolfe Foundation and the informal Monte Wolfe Society were outraged when a forest crew removed the door and stovepipe in late October. Forest officials now say that was a mistake but also say the action was prompted by inappropriate use of the cabin.

Photographs taken by a forest volunteer at the cabin showed modern tools, dishes, food, pesticide containers, and graffiti carved and written on the cabin interior. Forest staff also said the locks on the door had been changed.

Monte Wolfe Foundation members say they were not responsible for any violations of wilderness rules and in fact have been caring for the cabin carefully for years.

Federal rules generally ban maintenance of buildings in wilderness areas but also make it illegal to hasten the demise of historic structures. The Wolfe cabin was determined several years ago to be eligible for federal listing as a historic structure.

Wolfe cabin supporters suggested forest crews could use a helicopter to land in a nearby, level spot so they could make immediate repairs before snow gets deeper.

Doug Barber, the forest's Amador District ranger, rejected that idea.

"We are not going to use a helicopter. It is not appropriate," Barber said. "We think the additional damage that would be caused by the building being open for the winter is not going to be significant."

Barber also said a helicopter would be a motorized incursion that would violate wilderness rules and put forest staff at risk.

"If we get a break in the weather, we are going to go. And if we don't, it will be sometime this spring before it is taken care of," Barber said.

Meanwhile, Barber said, he would welcome the assistance of Krause and other Monte Wolfe Cabin preservationists when the repairs are done. He said he has been trying to schedule a meeting with members of the group.

"We will continue to work on that through the winter. We will get something set up," Barber said.

Contact reporter Dana M. Nichols at (209) 607-1361 or
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