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Contact: Dave Roemer, (707) 465-7700Crescent City, Calif. – Due to concerns for public safety, major structural damage, seismic deficiencies, vandalism, and sensitivity to the cultural significance of the site to both the Tolowa and Yurok people, Redwood National and State Parks is demolishing and removing the former Redwood Youth Hostel. Removal is planned for late September or early October. The work is being contracted in partnership with the Yurok Tribe.
The final decision to remove the building comes after years of evaluation and steady deterioration. As early as 2001, the National Park Service (NPS) began working to correct safety and construction deficiencies including a failing septic system, decking, fire escape, and escape landing. A comprehensive condition assessment in 2008 identified additional health, safety, and American Disability Act (ADA) repairs, plus serious deficiencies in seismic vulnerability that needed to be corrected for the building to be occupied.
Built on the same earthquake-prone geologic landscape as all of Northern California, the seismic retrofit cost estimates for the hostel were over $700,000. During inspections for seismic retrofitting additional rot and damage to the structure was discovered. As of 2008, the total estimated cost for all needed seismic retrofit work, structural repair, required accessibility retrofit work, and waste treatment improvements was over $1.5 million, exceeding the then current replacement value of the building by over 200%. Today’s estimated costs would be much higher.
Consequently, the hostel was closed for public safety in 2010. Since then, Redwood National and State Parks law enforcement rangers and maintenance staff have tried unsuccessfully to protect the property against vandals and squatters. Gates, locks, plywood covers, and routine patrols have not prevented trespass and illegal entry. Windows are broken, porch and interior wood have been used for bonfires, walls are covered with graffiti, trash—including drug paraphernalia and human waste—has accumulated inside and outside the building, and rotted food has been left to attract rats and mice. The damage from illegal occupancy has further deteriorated the building’s condition and rendered it unsafe.
Though it is no longer a viable or safe structure today, the building has had a long connection with Del Norte County’s ranching and dairy industry of the early 1900s. While the building exterior maintained a historical look and feel, it was determined ineligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 when the NPS converted the house into a hostel. Prior to being the site of the DeMartin dairy ranch, the mouth of Wilson Creek has been significant for millennia to Yurok people as Omen hee puer and to the Tolowa as Daa-gheslh-ts’a’. Wilson Creek continues to be significant to both the Tolowa and Yurok people. During meetings with the NPS, members of the Yurok Tribe, Elk Valley Rancheria, and Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation expressed their concerns about the protection of cultural resources in the vicinity.
The National Park Service recognizes and respects the emotional attachments to the former hostel. The present poor condition of the building stands as a disservice to the many fond memories that people have for the former hostel. The decision to demolish the structure was only made after extensive engineering evaluations, community discussion, communication with previous owners, and consultation with the Yurok and Tolowa people. Demolition and removal work will take measures to limit ground and vegetation disturbance as much as possible; no old-growth trees will be impacted. After demolition, a separate project will be sought to rehabilitate the site back to a natural state.
Redwood National and State Parks managers acknowledge the benefits of low-cost accommodations along the northern California coast and are exploring opportunities to reestablish the kind of cherished experiences that visitors to the former Redwood Youth Hostel enjoyed. Managers are open to exploring partnerships for hosteling or other low-cost accommodations, with the possibility of adaptively reusing existing park structures.
For further information regarding the former Redwood Hostel removal, please contact NPS Deputy Superintendent David Roemer at (707) 465-7700.
Last updated: October 2, 2019