Manzanar sits in the middle of the barren Owens Valley, one of the few landmarks on the road to Mammoth Mountain. It is the most well-known of the ten Japanese American internment relocation sites and is recognized by the United States National Park Service as the best-preserved of the internment camps.
A lot of work has been put into preserving the site and re-creating buildings that existed while the internment camp was occupied. Besides the main exhibit hall, barracks and a mess hall were reconstructed to depict what life was like at the internment camps. There is also a 3 mile auto tour that you can drive through to view original building foundations, the camp cemetery, and other remnants of internment life. Thousands of people come to visit the Manzanar National Historic Site each year to pay homage to the Japanese incarceration and learn about the struggles that were endured by the many during this time.
However, the serenity that surrounds this landmark may soon be overshadowed by a huge industrial energy project by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The LADWP has plans to construct the “Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch”, a 1,200 acre solar power facility across the road from Manzanar. They claim that the location is ideal, due to its proximity to power transmission lines and its elevation. In addition, a Canadian energy company is also planning to build a similar solar power facility a few miles northeast of Manzanar.
The construction of these solar power facilities will be a distraction, taking away from the Manzanar experience. Opponents of the facility aren’t necessarily opposed to the construction of the site– just the location.
For more information about the projects and its impact on Manzanar, read this KCET commentary article: Farewell to Manzanar? A Solar Future Threatens a Sensitive Past.
To sign a petition to halt LADWP’s planned solar power project, visit this website.