Sunday, July 29, 2012

Restoration - 1 - The Marin Headlands.

When I lived in San Francisco, I had a studio located in a National Park, in the Marin Headlands. At the base of the building I was in, was an old missile site. Tours would come in and the missile would rise from the bowels of the earth, loud noises would sound and the missile itself would be raised towards the heavens. The tourists would ride up and down on the platform. A distinctly odd scenario as the people on the platform would have to place both hands on the missile as it descended, to avoid accidents.

The missile descends with its worshippers, their hands raised to its power and the gates closed over their heads.

Or something to that effect always went through my head as I watched the spectacle. An artist had once done a project, knitting a tea cosy for the missile. The guys who ran the site loved it, apparently.

The National Parks Service was in the midst of returning the park to its original state, primarily removing eucalyptus trees(1). Being California, there was much debate about this, not just in the Headlands.

The Service was also removing some pine trees and their rationale was this. If the tree existed in the first photograph of the army buildings (the Headlands used to be an army base - the hills are riddled with WWII gun emplacements(2)) they would stay. If not, down they come. With this came burning the slash, something that caused much perturbation across the Golden Gate.

At any rate, how do you decide what point you restore anything to? In an age of leave only footprints etc., what are the thoughts behind restoration? Why not remove the buildings and get rid of the gun emplacements as well (ignoring cost for the moment.)?

I find this a fascinating topic, one I am planning on returning to.

Oh, and this was a minute's stroll from my studio....


(1)A quote from the article on eucalyptus - "Eucalyptus, impregnated with flammable oil, don't just burn; they explode, spewing firebrands hundreds of feet. Long, peeling bark is designed to carry flames to crowns. Most everything dies except the euc, whose seed pods open with the heat. And if these trees don't burn out the competition, they may poison it out with their toxic drippings."
(2) After they had built the gun emplacements, apparently, the planners realized they had placed these small grey targets on the greenish brown hills, easy for the invading Japanese to see. So they planted trees. Pine trees. Now they had large dark green targets against the greenish brown hills. Not sure if this is true but too good not to mention.