MOUNT DIABLO -- Fundraising for a $100,000 restoration of the historical beacon atop Mount Diablo is beginning now that a conservation group has a signed state deal permitting it to do the project.
Lit up once a year on Dec. 7 to honor Pearl Harbor victims, the 1928 beacon is suffering from age, exposure to harsh weather and lack of state park maintenance funds.
Conservationists with Save Mount Diablo are stepping in to fix the light on the 3,489-foot peak that overlooks large sections of the Bay Area and Central Valley.
Group leaders say they can begin rehabilitation fundraising because the state Department of Parks and Recreation has signed an agreement to permit them to lead a restoration to be done largely through volunteer work and donations.
Under the deal, state-approved experts will review the quality control and historical integrity of the restoration.
"This beacon is a powerful symbol of freedom and connection to our history," said Ron Brown, Save Mount Diablo's executive director. "It's important to preserve it."
The deal was approved by the state parks department last Friday, just hours before the annual beacon lighting.
Organizers had feared the light might fail for the Dec. 7 event, but volunteers coaxed the light into action as new state parks director Anthony Jackson watched with more than 300 other people.
Save Mount Diablo estimates it will cost about $100,000 for the restoration, possibly less if someone donates the use of a crane to load the beacon onto a truck for shipment to repair shops.
Save Mount Diablo is exploring the possibility of lowering the angle of the beam of light to make it more visible in communities around the mountain. The 1928 beacon was designed to shine high enough to help airplanes and ships navigate.
Brown said his group also wants to explore if a webcam could be installed adjacent to the beacon to livestream panoramic views from the summit.
Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff.
To donate to the fund to restore the beacon on top of Mount Diablo, go to www.savemountdiablo.org and click on "shopping cart" and then "beacon restoration fund."