Forest Service cabins get new life as Sauk-Suiattle tribal housing

DARRINGTON — For decades, they housed Forest Service workers and volunteers. Now new owners are moving in.

The Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe purchased eight homes from the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and plans to use them to house low-income tribal families who otherwise would have to live off the reservation. The tribe plans a ribbon-cutting ceremony today.

“It’s really going to help our housing base because we only have 17 homes here and we have over 200 members now,” Chairwoman Janice Mabee said. “It’s kind of hard to have everyone come home to 17 houses.”

The Forest Service decided to sell the houses, some of which were built in the late 1920s and early 1930s, as part of a downsizing, according to Darrington District Ranger Peter Forbes.

“With the budget we get, we just can’t handle the maintenance on the number of buildings we have to maintain,” he said. “That was the driving force behind this.”

The tribe paid $1.5 million for the houses and 5.64 acres of land.

The homes have been part of the Darrington Ranger Station compound for decades. They used to house staff and volunteers.

Visitors to the Darrington Ranger Station shouldn’t be affected by the sale, Forbes said.

The Sauk-Suiattle hope to move families into the homes by Christmas. The houses will be available with rent on a sliding scale, so families with low incomes will pay less than market value.

Mabee said the tribe has already received 10 applications from members wanting to move into the houses.

“We have an extremely urgent need for housing,” she said. “Whoever comes first and has the greatest need will be placed in first.”

The homes are six miles south of the tribe’s reservation near Darrington.

Reporter Kaitlin Manry: 425-339-3292 or kmanry@heraldnet.com.

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