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News.bytes Extra, issue 448

ARRA funds help restore historic light station grounds

A project on the Central California Coast funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has helped restore the Piedras Blancas Light Station to its historic appearance.

The Bureau of Land Management’s Bakersfield Field Office received $77,000 in ARRA funding to restore the historic Fuel Oil House and $70,000 to demolish a former Navy Mobile Instrumentation Station. (text continues below)

Workers atop a new building framework, with the lighthouse in the background
Workers on the historic fuel oil house

“This work is a major accomplishment in restoring Piedras Blancas Light Station to a period in time when it played a major role in maritime navigation,” said Tim Smith, Bakersfield Field Office manager.

BLM hosts well-attended tours of the Light Station near San Simeon and provides a resource for students to learn about the area’s history and environment.

The Fuel Oil House is on the National Historic Register and is an important interpretive feature. Demolition and removal of the Navy Mobile Instrumentation Station has helped restore the Piedras Blancas Light Station historic landscape.  More than 65,000 square feet will be revegetated with native plants and allowed to return to a natural condition much like what was present during the period of greatest historic significance.

In the 1866, Piedras Blancas was chosen to fill the gap between the lighthouses at Point Conception and Point Sur.

The Piedras Blancas Lighthouse was completed in 1875 and operated by employees of the U.S. Lighthouse Service until 1939 when the Coast Guard assumed command. Structural damage to the tower and new technology eventually replaced many of the functions of the lightkeepers as they became automated. The Coast Guard subsequently relinquished control and management of the Piedras Blancas Light Station to the Bureau of Land Management on October 12, 2001.

A restored fuel house building
The restored fuel house building

A worker uses a power shovel to demolish the obsolete building
Demolishing the obsolete communications building

- David Christy, BLM Central California District, 9/8/10

BLM-California News.bytes, issue 448