Saving Westfall Ranger Station right direction to go

Guest CommentaryJuly 15, 2014 

The historic Westfall Ranger Station on Highway 41, north of Oakhurst. The future of this site is at a crossroads.

BRIAN WILKINSON/SIERRA STAR

Our parents, Clyde and Jean Werly, lived on Miami/Westfall Ranger Station on Highway 41 from 1940-1950. I was born while they were living there, so our family, like many others in the area, has an affinity for this lovely landmark just outside Yosemite.

The county line between Madera and Mariposa counties runs through the Westfall Ranger Station. In the 1930-1940s, this station was the district headquarters for the Mariposa Ranger District.

The Miami/Westfall Ranger Station has a wonderful history, but the future of this station is at a crossroad; one direction will end its entire existence and the other will give it new direction and enhance it for all to enjoy.

This could be the solution for the latter direction.

We were surprised and so pleased when the Bass Lake District Archaeologist, Erin Potter, introduced us to Keith Webb, who has created the non-profit group Sierra Historic Restoration Project (SHRP). SHRP is a donation-based organization.

Its sole purpose is the restoration or renovation of historic buildings on the Sierra National Forest. SHRP's first project will be Goat Mountain Lookout located on the Bass Lake Ranger District; the second, which we are overjoyed about, will be the Miami/Westfall Ranger Station on Highway 41.

The most positive thing about SHRP and its restoration projects are the far- reaching benefits for this area. It is a win-win situation for the public and the government.

Continuous downsizing and budget cuts are making upkeep and yearly maintenance of lightly used or unused facilities a demolition target for the U.S. Forest Service. However, if these facilities across the forest are restored, it will be a great benefit for all.

For our local history, these buildings will be saved and will provide a connection to our nation's history.

For the Forest Service, these buildings and facilities will be saved, but their maintenance and use will be handled differently.

The benefit for the public is all the restored buildings will be managed under the Recreation Rental program of the Forest Service.

Once designated for recreation use, the Forest Service will offer them as vacation rentals for the public. A family could rent an entire ranger station, or an adventuresome couple could spend a weekend on a lookout tower, or a family reunion could occur at an historic guard station next to a Sierra Creek.

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