Barcroft station closes Open House this summer

The annual Barcroft Research Station Open House held at 12,500 feet high in the White Mountains has been cancelled this summer due to a funding shortage.

The once-a-year open gate that allows easier access to the third highest peak in the state, White Mountain, will still be open to those interested in hiking.

In past years, the high altitude research center opened its doors every August and allowed citizens a glimpse into the lives and work of scientists who study and live in the strange, windswept, wild world more than two miles above sea level.

Often, after the open house, visitors would climb White Mountain peak, located a few miles behind the research center, taking advantage of the shortcut offered by the open gate that normally bars the road.

This year, the research center is in transition, moving from one university—University of California San Diego—to another, UC Los Angeles—and it is being added to the UC system’s Natural Reserve System as well.

“Change is in the air at White Mountain Research Station,” said Diane Waterbury, a researcher at the Bishop-based White Mountain Research Station.

“As of July, the station joins the UC Natural Reserve System (NRS), a network of protected lands managed for university-level research, teaching, and public service that embraces more than 300,000 hectares of habitats across California,” she said.

This event marks a new start at White Mountain, she said.

“The complex of four stations has been renamed the White Mountain Research Center. The center’s higher elevation facilities include a montane (high alpine) station in the bristlecone pine forest at Crooked Creek in the White Mountains, an alpine meadow station at Barcroft, and a small summit station on White Mountain Peak. The base station near the foot of the White Mountains near Bishop has been renamed the Owens Valley Station.”

The move should benefit the research facilities, she said.

“They have plans to invest in some significant infrastructure improvements and eventually, to begin offering classes and more opportunities to get involved with the public,” she said.

Due to huge budget cuts—Waterbury said the stations budget has been cut between 10 and 20 percent every year for the past eight years—much of the station is in some disrepair and Waterbury is one of a few remaining employees at the once bustling research stations.

“The center’s entry to the NRS also kicks off a campaign to revitalize its facilities,” she said. “This effort, now hosted by the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UC Los Angeles with NRS support, is being led by WMRC faculty director Anthony Orme, Emeritus Professor of Geography, and a dedicated staff.”