Press release from Redwood National and State Parks:
Park Rangers with Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP) are asking for the public’s assistance in apprehending the persons responsible for the vandalism and theft at RNSP’s Howland Hill Outdoor School. Sometime between Thursday evening, April 4, and early Saturday morning, April 6, criminals broke into and vandalized several of the Outdoor School buildings, including the main classroom building, sleeping cabins, storage cabins, and the kitchen. Fire extinguishers were discharged in multiple buildings, items were broken and strewn about, and some props used in education programs were stolen. Among the items stolen is an irreplaceable pair of buckskin pants that had been used in California history education programs for many years. A custom-made, life-size exhibit of a redwood tree’s canopy in the classroom building was also damaged, likely by thrown furniture.
For over 35 years, Redwood National and State Parks has hosted education programs for local students in Del Norte and neighboring counties at Howland Hill Outdoor School. Many parents whom now attend these programs as chaperones fondly remember their own visits to Howland Hill as children. This year, however, these senseless acts of vandalism and theft will prevent teachers from sharing this time-honored tradition with their students.
Park rangers were one week in to the eight-week spring semester program, with one class scheduled to visit nearly every day. While they will still be able to lead some of the education programs that were planned to take place at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, the difficult decision to cancel the majority of this spring’s programs had to be made. After cleaning up, the parks will be able evaluate the facility for safety and security, and also make necessary updates and repairs.
We greatly appreciate the understanding and support that we have received from of our local teachers. Many have reported that the trip to Howland Hill Outdoor School is the highlight of the school year. The parks are proud to serve the community, and while education facilities are unusable at the outdoor school park rangers will instead bring as much of the programs as possible to the classroom for teachers who had already planned their visit.
The facility is also normally available for rentals by education-based groups. The parks hope to have everything back in order in time to host those groups who had already reserved dates this summer.
If you or someone you know has information that could lead to the apprehension of the individual(s) responsible for this destructive attack on our community resources, please call the park’s anonymous tip line at (707) 465-7353.