Save our historic buildings

Guest Commentary

Executive Director, Sierra Historic Restoration ProjectJuly 15, 2014 

This is an urgent call-to-arms to save some of our more important historic buildings on the Sierra National Forest (SNF), which were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and are now targeted for demolition.

Douglas McKay, U.S. Forest Service, Sierra National Forest Heritage Resources Program Manager/Forest Archeologist, informed those of us assembled at a public meeting at Sierra Historic Bass Lake facilities recently, of a plan to demolish many of the historic structures administered by the Sierra National Forest Facility Maintenance Program in order to reduce maintenance costs.

These recent developments on the SNF may lead to the demolition of many historic structures so I am asking that you set aside a few minutes in your busy schedule to help us save these legacy buildings for future generations.

The USFS does not prefer to destroy these historic structures and local Forest Service officials are doing everything in their authority to assist us in their preservation, but limited funds mean hard decisions. Since most of these structures are almost a century old, their maintenance is often too expensive for a Forest Supervisor to prioritize over security or critical forest infrastructure.

What can be done?

By transferring these buildings from the Forest Facilities Program to the USFS Recreation Rental Program, the cost of their maintenance becomes self-funded by rental fees. This is where the Sierra Historic Restoration Project comes in.

The buildings we restore with private funds are placed into the Recreation Rental Program and made available for the public to rent when they visit the forest. The funds from these rent fees stay local and are used for ongoing maintenance of the buildings. In this way we are able to take the maintenance costs away from the Forest Service budget without losing any of these great legacy buildings.

We need time and help. Sierra National Forest staff is committed to these administrative transfers, but we can't save all of these buildings without your help. To have the type of impact necessary to let the appropriate authorities know we are serious, we need immediate action from the public at large.

How can you help?

Contact the following people to let them know that we do not want to lose the infrastructure left to us by past generations for any reason, but especially not an operating budget.

Tell them you support the restoration of these buildings by citizens so they can be returned to the service of the American people. If we will not invest the few minutes it takes to send an email, or make a call, we will not be taken seriously in our offer to restore these legacy structures.

Dean Gould, Forest Supervisor, Sierra National Forest Supervisor, (559) 297-0706,

Dave Martin, District Ranger, Bass Lake Ranger District, Sierra National Forest Ranger, (559) 877-2218, ext. 3100,

Ray Porter, District Ranger, High Sierra Ranger District, Sierra National Forest Ranger, (559) 855-5355, ext. 3340,

Randy Moore, Regional Forester, Pacific Southwest Region 5, (707) 562-9000,

Tom Tidwell, Chief of the USDA Forest Service, (202) 205-8439. Share your concern with Chief Tidwell using the same USDA online feedback form as that for Secretary Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, (202) 720-3631, or USDA online feedback form:

Volunteer: Most current volunteer work can be done at home on your computer as it involves communication type work. Donation time would be approximately two hours per month.

Donate: Our next project is Goat Mountain Lookout, which dates back to 1915 and was later re-built by the CCC and can be found on the National Watch Tower web site at The estimated cost of this restoration is $52,000. Two thousand people giving $25 each will get this project completed. Of course, any tax-deductible donation is greatly appreciated. If funds are available we have four projects, which can be found on our website, and are ready to proceed in 2014.

To donate funds or volunteer time:

The inheritance you receive is not as important as the legacy you leave.

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