Friday, April 8, 2011

Pilot Service Project: Success !

On Wednesday, April 6, 2011, a group of volunteers from the National Council on Public History traveled to Fort Pickens to assist the National Park Service (NPS) with a cleanup project. Led by Ranger Stanley Lawhead, the volunteers began working to help beautify the site. The volunteers swept the walking path, moved brush and dug out a historic reverse brick arch. Within the fort, a twenty foot hill rises from the landscape. The Battery of Pensacola is housed within the mound. Decades of growth resulted in a large patch of shrubs and bushes. Unfortunately, the roots of the shrubs engulfed and began damaging the entrance to the battery. As NPS employees worked with power tools to cut through the brush, NCPH volunteers followed behind with pitches forks and rakes, moving the brush and smoothing the landscape. Once cleared, the NPS will plant grass on the hill to help preserve the Battery of Pensacola. The design of Fort Pickens features multiple overhead and reverse brick arches. Years ago, the NPS excavated one of the reverse brick arches for interpretation. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan tore through the Gulf Coast, and slammed Fort Pickens. During the storm, winds carried sand and buried the excavated arches. The NPS has been unable to dig out the arch since the storm in 2004. The group of NCPH volunteers works vigorously and successfully uncovered the reverse brick arch. The finest moment of the day occurred as the NCPH volunteers were finishing the project by sweeping off the small amount of sand that remained on the reverse arch. As they swept, a NPS park ranger arrived at the arch with his tour group. The ranger was unaware of the volunteers and the project. As he approached the arch, his face lit up. He turned to his group and exclaimed how wonderful it was to see the reverse arch. This ranger began working at Fort Pickens after Hurricane Ivan. For the seven years he worked at the fort, he had not seen the reverse arch. The 2011 NCPH volunteer project was a great success! Throughout the project, park rangers expressed their gratitude. Upon completing the project, Ranger Lawhead thanked each volunteer for giving their time and effort to help.

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