Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mt Umunhum Project Update

Mount Umunhum viewed from Mt El Sombroso
  Sometimes when the concept of something seems like an exceedingly great idea to you in theory and you really want that something to happen, it can seem like an eternity when the reality of the situation presents seemingly insurmountable circumstances. Thus has been the case with this project. Although long and arduous, the project to restore Mt Umunhum and Mt Thayer to open space is still underway and taking shape nicely. After years of delays and wrangling over who should take responsibility for the cost of the toxic material cleanup, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District published the Project Schedule and Implementation Phasing Plan in May of 2010. The latest of a series of public hearings will be the next bullet point in that plan. Set to take place on the evening of January 18th 2012, the hearing will be to provide comment on the environmental impact analysis. "The (DEIR) Draft Environmental Impact Report is to evaluate potential environmental impacts that could result from the demolition of the former Almaden Air Force Station at Mount Umunhum, and creation of open space access facilities including trails, bathrooms, and parking lots". The hearing is open to the public. For more information visit the Mt Umunhum Project page on MidPen’s website. The cleanup and demolition is expected to cost in the neighborhood of 13 million dollars and is still not expected to be completed until sometime beyond 2015. The project page also contains lost of interesting content including pictures, videos, maps, PDF documents, and historical information. Also check out the video below which aired on KQED last July called "Mount Umunhum: Return to the Summit". This mountain was a holy place to the Ohlone people. Restoring it to a natural state would be a really great way to pay tribute to it's history.


Katie (Nature ID) said...

I've been extremely impressed with MidPen, a district I'm not familiar and haven't had the privilege to hike yet. That's good news about Mt. Umunhum! It certainly has been a long time since the Air Force Station closed in 1980. Even after the cleanup, it'll take time and money to build the public access accoutrements. It's tough to wait, eh?

Here in Monterey, Fort Ord was closed in 1994. While some portions have already been cleared of lead and munitions and put into use, 2020 is the proposed transfer date of the rest of the land to Fed. BLM land. As of last year, they've already spent $400 million (no exaggeration) for cleanup efforts. It's been interesting to see the progress. I've documented just a little bit of it here:

Waypoints said...

I would be happy enough if they just cleaned up the toxic material and left the site as is at least for now, even though the dilapidated buildings are ugly as sin. I just want to be able to hike the summit without being cited for trespassing. I would like to see them demolish and remove the buildings, and create park accouterments because that would make it more attractive for public access.

I have heard about all the issues on the former Fort Ord lands. I’ve even heard stories about live ordinance being found by hikers. I remember some years ago while hiking at Sierra Azul I found an old military ammo can not far from the trail near the summit of El Sombroso. I was too wary to even touch it, but I did report it.