Vandals attacked the park improvements on Mount Wanda at the John Muir National Historic Site causing more than $4,000 worth of damage sometime between Jan. 8-10.
"They took the kiosk at the trailhead and smashed it," said Ralph Bell, historic site acting deputy superintendent. "We just put new cedar roofs on them last summer. It is hard not to take it personally."
Another 5x8-foot kiosk further up the trail was torn to pieces. Both kiosks had been embedded in the hillside with 4-by-4 wood supports and contained maps, bird and flower information and park notices.
The railing of a new bridge was ripped out and some of its supports destroyed. A 400-pound picnic table was pushed down the mountainside and a 150-pound fire hazard sign was wrecked.
Bell said the kiosks cost about $1,500 each, and he is hopeful that they will be able to get funding to restore them.
"This was not just one person. It is the sort of thing that was a done by a group of people," Bell said. "It's a mindless act of vandalism."
Martinez police and park officials are left with few clues and are counting on members of the public who may come forward with information about the perpetrators, who may not know that this is a federal offense, since it took place in a national park.
Rangers were shocked and insisted that this kind of damage is rare in Martinez.
"There is no logic to this," said new park superintendent Tom
Leatherman said he wants visitors to understand that the park is still open and that park officials will do their best to restore the services and information that made visiting the wilderness area more enjoyable.
He also suggested that if the vandalism continues, the park service may not have the resources to keep replacing the damaged structures.
Park rangers hope the public will help them by reporting anything suspicious when using the trails.
"More than 5,000 people a year go up and down that trail. It is kind of an oasis. In five minutes you are away from the road and 30 minutes you are in something akin to a wilderness," Bell explained. "Mount Wanda is regularly patrolled. However, we have limited funding."
Bell is working on the restoration.
"We have already started cleaning up and I think we will have the Youth Conservation Corps work on the bridge this summer."
He is concerned about the effect on the young workers when they see the destruction the bridge they built only last year.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Martinez police at 925-372-3440 or Ralph Bell at 925-372-0979.
Contact Dana Guzzetti at email@example.com or call 925-202-9292.