Click photo to enlarge
The beacon is photographed at Mount Diablo State Park in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Monday, July 23, 2012. The age of the 84-year-old beacon, the harsh weather at the mountain summit, and the lack of state funds for restoration has caused it to deteriorate despite the best efforts of volunteers to keep it running. The beacon is lit every year on Pearl Harbor Day. (Susan Tripp Pollard/Staff)

DEAR JOAN: We all care deeply about protecting Mount Diablo -- for wildlife and for all of us to enjoy. And we care about Mt. Diablo State Park, its summit museum and the beacon that sits on top of it. It is the latter that I am writing to you about today. We are hoping you and your readers will help restore the historic beacon.

Sometimes called the "Eye of Diablo," the beacon was installed on the mountain to assist with aircraft navigation in 1928. Since 1964, the beacon has been lighted one night a year to remember those who served at Pearl Harbor. The beacon lighting is hosted by the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors, the Mt. Diablo State Park and Save Mount Diablo.

Over the past decades the "Eye" has fallen into significant disrepair. Like other state parks, Mt. Diablo is unable to provide the maintenance that this historical artifact requires. Volunteers from Save Mount Diablo have obtained special legislation to allow us to undertake its restoration. As far as we know, this is the last working beacon from its aviation string in the country.

The beacon watches over the natural lands on and around Mount Diablo just as Save Mount Diablo does. In addition to sharing Mount Diablo's natural and cultural history, Save Mount Diablo works to preserve, defend and restore the natural lands on and around the mountain for people and wildlife to enjoy. Through this work, preserved lands have increased from less than 7,000 acres to more than 110,000 acres in more than 40 parks, with the help of our partners and supporters like you and your readers.

These natural areas are beautiful and home to all kinds of critters. Many of your readers and residents in this area enjoy Diablo's parks and trails or just taking in the mountain's breathtaking beauty at the end of a long drive home.

Each year on Dec. 7, as that light shines from the mountain, we remember those who gave their lives in service to our country. When the beacon light is turned on, it is a tribute to those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor, and in wars since.

We need to raise $100,000 to restore the beacon. Many volunteers and businesses have already stepped up to help us, but there still are many expenses. We will need to hire a professional conservator to ensure the restoration work is historically accurate. There are material costs for items needing replacement, such as electrical wiring and the motor assembly, and the old lead paint needs to be safely removed.

Thanks for letting your readers know they can make a difference by supporting Save Mount Diablo and its work to restore the "Eye of Diablo" so it can continue to shine in the years to come.

Ron Brown

Executive Director Save Mount Diablo

DEAR RON: As it happens, I'm a lighthouse fiend, and I've long been fascinated by the navigational beacon atop Mount Diablo.

It holds a rich history of silent duty in the darkened skies, and as a beam of light honoring those who gave much to this nation. There is something magical to see the white light winking at us every Dec. 7.

It would be a shame to let the beacon become lost to time, the elements and neglect.

Please join me in helping to keep the light burning by sending your tax-deductible donations to Save Mount Diablo -- Friends of Joan/Beacon, 1901 Olympic Blvd. Suite 320, Walnut Creek, CA 94596

I'll keep you posted with regular updates to see how close we are getting to that goal.

Joan Morris' column runs five days a week in print and online. Contact her at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.