by Margaret Magat, Cultural Resources Program Manager, 63rd Regional Support Command
Adapted from The Guardian (the environmental newsletter of the 63rd Regional Support Command)
Funded by a federal grant as part of National Public Lands Day last September, members of the 63rd Regional Support Command Environmental Division worked with the Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve in Vallejo, California to clean and install signs marking the importance of two historic sites.
The project helped to restore Mare Island’s Naval Ammunition Depot guard houses, which have suffered weather decay and structural damage over the years. Originally built in 1942, these guard houses once served as the gateway to the Naval Ammunition Depot. At the height of World War II, thousands of visitors and employees at the ammunition depot passed by the guard houses each day. They are now a major feature of the Mare Island National Historic Landmark.
The Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve is working to transform the former Navy property into a regional park, therefore preserving the critical role that Mare Island played in world events, or what Myrna Hayes, president of the Mare Island Heritage Trust and volunteer manager of the Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve, called “more than 150 years of naval history gone wild.” By restoring the guard houses and installing the interpretive signs, Hayes said that people will understand the immediate context of the site’s historical significance and not forget “[those] who labored here.”
A second, final phase of the restoration project took place in December, when the final coat of paint was applied to the walls of the guard house by the volunteers.
National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is the largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands in the United States. Mare Island was just one of more than 2,500 sites in the United States and Puerto Rico where hundreds of thousands of volunteers across the nation worked to preserve some of America’s most precious cultural and natural resources. To fund their NPLD projects, military installations can apply for grants through the Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program.