Dear Friends,
The Fund recently selected a new slate of projects to improve the visitor experience from proposals submitted to us by western National Parks. The projects described here have been added to our list of ongoing projects , with additional projects in new parks under discussion and likely to be announced soon.
 
New wayside educational signs, tactile maps, additional telescopes, better defined trails and more will help visitors engage with the West's special places in the coming year and for many years to come. 

Please feel free to share this email with others and don’t hesitate to call me if you’d like to know more. It’s a pleasure to talk with you about the work in which you’re participating through your generous gifts.
                                                                                          Happy Holidays! 
                                                                 Kevin Hendricks
Death Valley National Park:
Keane Wonder Mine Trail
 
The many remaining structures at Keane Wonder Mine give visitors an up-close experience of a gold mine. The trail to explore the mine also offers great panoramic vistas. Hazards at the site were mitigated during a decade of closure, and it was reopened to the public in 2016. Vehicle traffic now ranges from 600 cars per month in summer to over 2,000 in the spring. Unfortunately, parking places and trails are so unclear that visitors are often confused about where to park and start their hike. 
 
A Fund grant will enable National Park Service staff to carry out a plan to delineate parking and trails. Routes will be outlined with buried railroad ties, cables, fencing, and boulders to fit the desert terrain. Trail definition will protect vegetation. When the project is complete, visitors will find an obvious place to park and follow the best route to explore the site.
Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park:
Audio Storytelling
 
Among the exhibits at the Rosie the Riveter's Visitor Education Center are life-size statues, representing the people of the World War II home front. Their stories, told by voice professionals, have already been recorded, but are not yet available to visitors. A grant from the Fund will enable an audio specialist to devise a simple and appropriate way for visitors to access the recordings while looking at the statues.
 
The speaking statues are likely to become a highlight for school groups and families. The stories are informal and casual, with the voices of children included. They will enhance the efforts of the park to welcome new park visitors to this urban national park.  
Crater Lake National Park:
North Junction Overlook Bronze Relief Map
 
Visitors obtain a dramatic view of Crater Lake at North Junction Overlook, where East Rim and West Rim Drive meet at the north entrance road. More than 80,000 visitors per month go through this point.  However, the overlook has informal landscaping that is not accessible to visitors of all abilities. A plan is in place to renovate the overlook, providing it with new paved paths, stone retaining walls, and wayside educational signs. 
 
A Fund grant will enhance that plan by enabling creation of a bronze tactile relief map to be placed on on of the trails. The map will be enjoyed by all, giving visitors, including those who are sight-impaired, a better understanding of the lake’s incredible topography. 
Death Valley National Park:
Night Sky Viewing Telescopes

A grant from the Fund will be used to buy a new telescope and repair existing telescopes, to enhance visitors’ opportunity to view the night sky with a ranger. The eight night sky programs currently offered each month at Death Valley are among the most popular programs in the park. The annual Dark Sky Festival attracted 2,700 people last year. Having several telescopes of different types available will reduce wait times for visitors, allow better observations, and make it possible to expand the program to benefit more visitors.
Great Basin National Park:
Bristlecone Trail Wayside Educational Signs
 
Old metal signs along the Bristlecone Trail tell visitors about the biology of the ancient bristlecone pines. However, scientific knowledge about the trees has advanced and the signs have become outdated. Some have been vandalized over the years. Visitors can miss the loop trail completely because it is marked by wooden posts that have been damaged by harsh weather conditions at 9,800 feet above sea level.
 
With a Fund grant, the obsolete signs will be replaced by new wayside educational signs that provide current scientific information, explaining what it takes for the bristlecones to live to be 4,000 years old. The panels will meet National Park Service standards, with one serving as a trailhead sign to orient visitors to the trail loop and its offerings.
Manzanar National Historic Site:
Born Free and Equal  by Ansel Adams
In 1943, the director of Manzanar invited Ansel Adams to create a photographic record of the lives of Japanese Americans incarcerated there. “I cannot pay you a cent,” he wrote, “but I can put you up and feed you.” Adams agreed to come. The result was the book Born Free and Equal : The Story of Loyal Japanese-Americans.
 
Original copies of the book are now rare and expensive. Few copies were printed because public response at the time was mixed. Some saw Adams’ work as too sympathetic to Japanese Americans.
Adams donated the images to the Library of Congress in 1965. Amazon offers a photocopy collection of the original 1944 publication, but the image quality is poor. A Fund grant will republish the book in its original form, not as a commercial venture, but as a way to provide Manazanar visitors with high quality and engaging historical insight during and after their visit.

The book includes images of the mountain landscape setting of Manzanar and many
portraits of the Japanese Americans who were forcibly relocated to live out the war years there. The text was written by Adams himself.
Pinnacles National Park: OpenRoad Park Spotlight

OpenRoad host Doug McConnell shines a spotlight on parks and open spaces protected by the public in a weekly syndicated travel show on NBC Bay Area. Fund sponsorship will enable a half-hour episode on Pinnacles National Park, where five Fund grants have enabled projects that enhance the visitor experience. The broadcast will reach thousands of potential park visitors, and have an extended impact via websites and social media.
Thank you for participating in the Fund's work

The Fund receives its non-profit status by operating as a project of Community Initiatives, a 501(c)(3) group based in Oakland that provides fiscal sponsorship services to nearly 100 selected public benefit organizations.

Our mission is to provide private funding and professional services to complete inspirational projects that enhance the visitor experience in western National Parks.