Manzanar: National Park Service seeks input on former Japanese-American internment camp

The Manzanar Visitor Center.
The Manzanar Visitor Center.
Manzanar National Historic Site
The Manzanar Visitor Center.
Catholic church, Manzanar Relocation Center.
Ansel Adams/Library of Congress
The Manzanar Visitor Center.
Mrs. Naguchi and two children, Manzanar Relocation Center.
Ansel Adams/Library of Congress

The National Park Service wants the public’s input in the development of the Manzanar National Historic Site, the former internment camp 230 miles north of Los Angeles where thousands of Japanese Americans were relocated in the 1940s.

According to Bernadette Johnson, superintendent at the park, much of what has been done since its establishment as a historic site in 1992 was based on stakeholder input. This month, the staff has been hosting open house meetings for the community’s feedback on future plans.

“People really want us to continue to tell the personal stories and really connect our nearly 80,000 visitors to those personal stories,” Johnson told KPCC.

The drought has also come up.

The site has more than 20 Japanese gardens that were constructed during the camp’s operation, according to Johnson.

"It was an effort to beautify their spaces," she said. "They’re not large gardens — they're typically small garden ponds and they have not had water in them."

The plan may include putting water back in the pond, according to Johnson, but not soon.

“Obviously being in the fourth year of drought, that's not something we're going to take on right away. And when we do take it on, it will be related to some sort of water-saving opportunity,” she said.

NPS welcomes input from everybody, not just members of the Japanese-American community.

“Manzanar really is about American history,” said Johnson.

The agency is hosting a meeting Saturday near downtown L.A.’s Little Tokyo for comments on park planning and management.

Those who can’t attend can send suggestions through the park’s website. Public comments will be taken until September 15.

The site expects to have a final document outlining plans for the park by early 2016.

You can get more information on the Manzanar National Historic Site and see a copy of the plans on their website.