Now that an all-inclusive plan mapping out the ideal trajectory for one of the state’s most underappreciated historical landmarks has been completed, California State Parks and Angel Island Conservancy have set their sights on what they believe is their greatest responsibility to the Bay Area community – storytelling.

Despite having numerous facets and a rather daunting title, the Angel Island State Park Interpretation Master Plan is a fairly straightforward document. It outlines the long-range goals of the island and identifies how said goals will be met.

“The interpretation [plan] provides a 20-30 year outline of what kinds of stories we will tell,” said Amy Brees, Angel Island State Park Superintendent. “It also plans how we will tell the stories and how we can better engage the public.”

Angel Island State Park, which includes the entire island located just off the coast near Tiburon in the San Francisco Bay, has a rich and, often, unknown history.

“This isn’t a master plan that deals with restoring buildings,” said Gail Dolton, Board President of AIC. “It’s about interpretation. We’re focused on telling stories – the history of the island, cultural history, military history, natural resources.”

The IMP, which took more than two years to complete, does include provisions to improve facilities; however, Brees said creating new educational programs and recreational opportunities are of the greatest priority.

“We hope to have a different program available every day,” Brees said. “There’s a whole other host of things we want the Bay Area community to know they can do.”

Earlier this year, AISP received $450,000 in Proposition 84 funds to finance an island-wide interpretive signage project. Brees said the master plan was instrumental in obtaining the funding, and she hopes to complete the project in time for the America’s Cup in 2013.

“We wanted to compete for funding, and this is how you do it,” Brees said. “Get all of your stakeholders on the same page, and decide which funding to apply for and which projects to address first. Everybody had amazing ideas about what to do, and it’s great when we share the same vision and are able to put it down on paper.”

The funding for the interpretive signage project will be used to create informative signs at nine “Key Interpretive Destinations.” Brees said the lack of information at the destinations, which include the U.S. Immigration Station, Camp Reynolds and Mount Livermore, hurts the overall experience of the park.

Upon the completion of the signage project, Dolton said creating an orientation center at Ayala Cove will become the group’s number one priority.

“Our goal is to turn the island into a must-see destination,” Dolton said.

AIC will continue to work with the state parks department to raise money and implement future projects. Dolton said volunteer and docent training opportunities will be made available in the spring.

“It’s a hidden gem and right in our own backyard,” Dolton said. “Unfortunately, people forget. If they don’t care about it, places like Angel Island will disappear forever.”

For more information on Angel Island, visit angelisland.org or parks.ca.gov/angelisland.

Contact Gregory Andersen at gandersen@marinscope.com.

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