The Harbor Defenses of San Francisco


The roof of the Point Bonita Signal Station has collapsed due to lack of maintenance by the Park Service.  A simple application of rust preventing or consolidating paint would have prevented this serious damage to one of the historical structures in the GGNRA.

There are hundreds of fire control stations and other small structures that were part of the Harbor Defenses of San Francisco in the GGNRA. Many of them are exposed to the ocean environment and have extensive rust damage that will eventually lead to catastrophic failure of the structure. These structures need to be addressed in some sort of regular maintenance schedule. In some cases, this could be as simple as having a volunteer apply a rust preventing or rust consolidating paint to the rusted metal surfaces.

The Park Service has problems in determining exactly how much deferred maintenance costs they actually have, but nation wide, 5 billion dollars is the figure most often quoted.

The Park Service was decimated under Ronald Reagan’s first Interior Secretary James Watt, and Bush’s secretary of Interior, Gale Norton, is a former protégé of James Watt. Ms. Norton has long been an outspoken advocate of granting states, localities and even private corporations a greater voice in environmental decisions that under Democratic leadership have been mostly the preserve of the federal government.

Now, the Bush Administration wants to revise the Park Service’s charter in an attempt to further weaken their ability to preserve and maintain our wild lands and cultural resources.

San Francisco faces serious and unique issues as it’s the only National Park in the country that is required to be self-sufficient and is largely run by a politically appointed board of trustees. 

Although the Trust’s Management Plan includes preserving and enhancing natural, cultural, scenic, and recreational resources, it often appears that the Trust’s primary goal is to raise money to maintain their portion of the park. The cultural resources that have no money making potential do not seem to be very important to the Trust.

And with the revision of the Park Service’s charter, the long tradition of the Park Service to conservation and preservation will be tilted more toward utilization and commericalization.

San Francisco is also one of the most liberal and anti-military cities
in the country.  The portions of the park that are not run by the Trust
are under the jurisdiction of the National Parks, but the
Superintendent basically takes his marching orders from the Trust and
the liberal, local political

This means that one of the largest collection of harbor defense gun emplacements in the United States is pretty much falling apart.

The Curator of Military History was never replaced
when he retired.  The Park Archives has had staff cuts and is unable to
keep up with the processing of the material and have cut back public
access to archive material.

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area includes the
Presidio of San Francisco, Fort Winfield Scott, Fort Barry, Fort Baker,
Fort Cronkite, Fort Funston, and hundreds of former military buildings
and resources. Many of these resources, especially the harbor defense sites are in grave danger of disappearing by neglect.


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