300 volunteers pitch in for Tourism Cares cleanup of Bay Area park


Some 300 travel industry volunteers descended on Angel Island State Park in San Francisco Bay this month for the eighth annual Tourism Cares for America volunteer event.

Representatives from across the travel industry, including tour operators, hoteliers, destination marketing organizations, airlines, cruise lines and attractions, gathered on the island on June 4 to help clean up the historical park.

According to Angel Island State Park staff, Tourism Cares volunteers removed 85 cubic yards of undergrowth from the eucalyptus grove at Camp Reynolds, greatly reducing the threat of wildfires spreading.

They also split and stacked two cords of wood at the Quarter Master building, which will provide three months of firewood for the Environmental Living Program, and stacked 48 cords of firewood at North Garrison, which will be used to heat 14 homes on Angel Island to reduce the total power bill by $20,000 annually.

The volunteers also cleaned and repaired 600 feet of drainage ditch, replaced 80 feet of redwood dividers in the passenger loading area, picked up 78 cubic yards of garbage in the East Garrison warehouse and stacked and organized 2,500 terra-cotta roof tiles, which will be used to repair 28 mission revival buildings dating to 1910.

The projects would have taken park staff months to complete.

"It was obvious from the start that these folks came to work," Roy Stearns, deputy director for communications for California State Parks, said in a statement.

"In one day, they did tens of thousands of dollars worth of work, and during these tough budget times, that is immensely valuable to our park system."

Angel Island has miles of hiking trails, including a trek to Mount Livermore, which at 788 feet is the island's highest point.

The Navy took possession of the island in the mid-19th century, after which it was used for military purposes through the Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I, World War II and the Cold War years.

There is also a U.S. Immigration Station located on the island, where hundreds of thousands of immigrants, predominantly from China and Japan, were processed between 1910 and 1940.

"We want to eliminate the use of the words 'there used to be' by parents and grandparents when they tell their children and grandchildren about the world's natural, cultural and historic sites," said Bruce Beckham, executive director of Tourism Cares. "Places like Angel Island need to be restored and preserved so their stories can continue to be told."

The Angel Island project was the first Tourism Cares for America event held on the West Coast.

The next Tourism Cares for America Volunteer Day event will be held at the National Mall in Washington on Sept. 10.

This report appeared in the June 28 issue of Travel Weekly.

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