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Fort Barry Nike Site SF-88 Volunteers

Description: The Fort Barry Nike Site SF-88 Volunteers, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, is a community-based partnership whose members served at Nike missile air defense sites during the Cold War era. The group formed specifically to preserve and restore historic Nike Site SF-88L, located at Fort Barry in the Marin Headlands of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. This 35 acre site is currently listed as a contributing property to the larger Forts Barry, Baker, and Cronkhite National Register District. The Nike Site SF-88 Volunteers restored the abandoned and derelict site into the most complete Nike Site today in the United States. Currently, John Porter, a park electrician, coordinates the team of volunteers who do everything but launch the missiles.

The Nike Site SF-88 Volunteers partner with the National Park Service (NPS) to accurately restore and interpret the Fort Barry missile site as it was during highest period of historical significance. The goal is not only to preserve existing structures, features and objects at the site, but to accurately depict the site as it appeared and operated during the height of the Cold War era, from 1959 - 1965. These energetic volunteers use their extensive networking capabilities to locate and acquire a comprehensive collection of equipment and material that relate to the site's use during this period. The collection, consisting of everything from twelve Nike missiles to radars guidance computers and vehicles, includes many objects that are the last remaining of their kind in the world. Most of the collection was acquired--for the cost of hauling the artifacts and parts to the site from all over the United States--through the initiative and networking efforts of the volunteers. The taxpayers saved some $30 million in the process.

The Nike Site SF-88 Volunteers provide most of the labor that goes into maintaining and preserving all buildings, equipment, and objects at the site. Crucially they provide the expertise to restore such complex equipment as the long-retired guidance computers, radars, and associated machinery that made the site work. The NPS supports the volunteers with funding for supplies and equipment and necessary contracts for infrastructure such as repaving the area, and the restoration of thousands of feet of perimeter security fencing. The Fee Demonstration Program is the primary funding source for the NPS site steward FTE and day-to-day supplies/materials expenses. NPS has programmed $50,000 per year for the site from 2004 through 2011.

The volunteers, primarily engineers, skilled trades people, artists and students, meet primarily on weekends to conduct their restoration and interpretation activities but also provide support during the open hours each weekday. Retired veterans conduct tours of the site during the week and ensure that visitors are given a thorough understanding of the role and significance of the antiaircraft defensive systems during the Cold War era. They have, as well, developed a web site for the Nike Site that gets thousands of "hits" each year from people interested in learning more about the Cold War. The volunteers not only maintain the web site but answer incoming questions from the web site users.

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area and University of San Francisco have a partnership between the park and the History Department to offer field placements to students. The NIKE site is a semester or year-long placement, offering an array of opportunities for history students to do research, complete identified projects while also interpreting the site's story to the public and high school students.

Restoring and interpreting the Fort Barry Nike site was started in 1984 and has made monumental progress over the last ten years. While there is still work to be done in the overall restoration and continued maintenance of the site, the work of the volunteers has enabled acquisition of the bulk of the large objects (missiles, etc.) and equipment as well as providing the equivalent of years of labor to restore missile elevators and other complex electrical and hydraulic equipment on site. When the volunteers began their work, the underground missile magazines were filled with seven feet of water. Now one of the magazines is in working order and the other is used as a metal and electrical shop.

Geographic area covered: Nike missile site SF-88L is located at Fort Barry in the Marin Headlands, overlooking the Pacific Ocean in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It is approximately three miles northwest of the Golden Gate Bridge.

List of partners and relationships: The Nike Site SF-88 Volunteers and the National Park Service.

Accomplishments to date: The restoration of the Fort Barry Nike Site has substantially increased awareness and interest in the importance of the Cold War to the history of the Bay Area and the United States. The site was rescued from ruin and obscurity and transformed into a destination place for school groups, veterans groups, and the general public.

The site now hosts 20,000 visitors a year. Of these visitors, 3,000 are school children from the local schools. The web site receives over 15,000 inquiries per year.

NPS and the Nike Site SF-88 Volunteers have also begun to receive inquiries from other Cold War era sites around the country requesting information on how to interpret and restore such sites. The interest in Cold War history is increasing and the Fort Barry Nike Site has added a tangible, living learning experience to that story.

The physical benefit is the preservation and restoration of a nationally significant historic site that contains 12 contributing structures. The Nike Site SF-88 Volunteers also provide for the preservation of hard-to find objects that are part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area's permanent museum collection.

The Fort Barry Nike Site has been identified as the park's priority for another unique partnership between the NPS and Antenna Theater. Antenna Theater is a park partner in the Marin Headlands and well known for their audio tours of museums. Each year they provide audio services to the park and their next project will be assisting the NIKE site with oral histories which will then be the basis for a self-guided audio tour of the site for the public. The audio tour will complement a web-based curriculum program on the Nike Site and the Cold War offered to high school students.

Key success factors: The Nike Site SF-88 Volunteers have provided thousands of hours of volunteer time which add up to many full-time employee hours over the last ten years. While no complete compilation of volunteer time is currently available, the efforts of this group are equivalent to a National Park Service historic preservation crew of five people working continuously and single-mindedly on the same project for over four years.

A vital "sparkplug" for the success of the preservation effort was the late Col. Milton F. "Bud" Halsey, USA ( ret.). A great and energetic mountain of a man, Bud used skills honed during a thirty-year Army career to track down the equipment and resources needed to haul 18 trailer loads to Fort Barry and start putting the site back together. His vision and leadership helped recruit and organize the volunteer Nike veterans and is largely responsible for encouraging NPS to take interest in the restoration of the site.

Frustrations: People strongly invested in a site, especially those that contributed to its history, feel a strong sense of ownership. It is important to acknowledge this feeling, but just as important to acknowledge the ultimate public management of the site according to the founding principles of the National Park Service which include the preservation and protection of resources for the enjoyment of present and future generations.

Most important lessons learned to date: It is important for the park to be a true partner with a volunteer organization and to mutually buy into the goals and objectives of the partnership.

There is a learning curve. Park and volunteers may make mistakes but must respect their mutual desire to do the right thing for the resource.

What would you do differently next time: Have a broader vision of how history comes to be and accept the Army's original offer to turn the site over to the National Park Service in working (but demilitarized) order.

Suggested resource materials(related to the case study): Nike site website

For more information:

Name: Stephen A. Haller
Affiliation: Historian, Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Phone/Fax: 415-561-4815

Name: Mia Monroe
Affiliation: Site Supervisor, Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Phone/Fax: 415-331-1563

Name: John Porter
Affiliation: Maintenance Mechanic, Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Phone/Fax: 415-331-1453

Name: Cary Chin
Affiliation: Nike Site Volunteer
Phone/Fax: 925-294-1567

Partnership category(ies) (check all that apply)

Fundraising __; Capital Improvements _X_; Facility Management __; Trails __; Design __; Program Delivery _X_; Visitor Services _X_; Tenant Organizations __, Concessioners __; Natural Resources Management/Restoration __; Cultural Resources _X_; Education/Interpretation _X_; Arts __; Information Services __; Transportation __; Mutual Aid __; Fire Management __; Planning __; Tourism __; Community Relations __;

Other ____________________________

Prepared by: Steve Haller, John Porter, Cary Chin Date posted: 12/08/03
Phone: Steve Haller at 415-561-4815, John Porter at 415-331-1453, Cary Chin at 925-294-1567

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Volunteer Alec Gyorfi replacing hydraulic rams on launcher
Volunteers Nurisio, Fey, Halsey, and Gyorfi in front of launcher
Volunteers reassembling the Missile Tracking Radar
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