Manzanar's Japanese gardens have undergone extensive restoration work. (NPS)
Manzanar’s Japanese gardens have undergone extensive restoration work. (NPS)

INDEPENDENCE — The public is cordially invited to help make a concrete contribution at Manzanar National Historic Site this summer.

Under the direction of National Park Service archeologists Jeff Burton and Laura Ng, two volunteer historic preservation workshops will be offered:

Aug. 15-17: In the historic administration and staff housing area, volunteers will be resetting missing stones, painting stones, and removing brush and sand from landscape features. Volunteers will be digging with shovels and small hand tools, cutting and loading brush, using wheelbarrows, collecting rocks to reconstruct landscape features, and occasionally screening sediments to retrieve artifacts.

Aug. 29-Sept. 2: Volunteers will be working at Merritt Park, the largest Japanese garden at Manzanar. Most of the work will involve lining the large garden ponds with colored concrete. Volunteers will be digging with shovels and small hand tools, mixing concrete, using wheelbarrows, and placing and smoothing concrete. Other work will include brush clearing, resetting boulders, installing road barriers, restoring a wood post planter, and uncovering and possibly restoring a “Dutch” oven.

The NPS will be able to accommodate up to 25 volunteers per day. Volunteers must be at least 15 years old and be able to work outdoors. It will be hot and most of the work is physically demanding, but there will be a variety of tasks each day, to suit a variety of interests and energy levels. Previous experience is helpful, but all that is needed is an interest in history and a willingness to be spattered with paint and concrete.

Volunteers must sign up in advance and may work any number of days or hours, but a full day or multiple days are preferred. Work will be conducted regardless of weather, so come prepared, bring water, lunch, sunscreen, a hat, and work gloves. Volunteers will meet each day at 6:30 a.m. in the Visitor Center parking lot and work until 2:30 p.m.

To sign up, email or call (760) 878-2194, ext. 3303. Manzanar National Historic Site is located at 5001 Hwy. 395, six miles south of Independence. For more information, visit

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