The last-ditch effort to save the Prado Dam mural

Prado-Dam-smSupporters are rallying to save the iconic bicentennial mural on the Prado Dam spillway in Corona, which is set to be removed Thursday.

The faded mural on the Prado Dam is a regular sight for drivers heading into Corona on the eastbound 91 freeway. It was painted by Corona High School students as part of a competition to mark the nation’s bicentennial.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the dam, wants the mural removed because of graffiti and environmental concerns from the lead-based paint. They announced a contest to replace the painting, and at a public meeting in April they heard a near-unanimous response: restore the mural.

“It’s kind of consistent with them, because over the years, I’ve offered to clean up the graffiti and make it look a lot better and a lot more patriotic, and they didn’t care back then. You’d think they would, being that they’re a department of the army, but they don’t,” said landscape architect Ron Kammeyer, a San Jacinto resident who was one of the two high school students behind the winning design.

Supporters say the mural could be sealed in a way that would eliminate the environmental risk and preserve the chipped and faded paint.

“It certainly appears to be one of the last highly-visible either artworks or things of any kind associated with the bicentennial nationally, anywhere. And we hope that it will be preserved,” said Daniel Paul, an architectural historian who is lobbying to preserve the mural.

The Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles has filed a complaint to save the mural, and plans to file a temporary restraining order as well. The group Friends of the Prado Dam Mural have collected more than 8,000 signatures to preserve the mural.

Requests for comment from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have not been returned.

Rep. Ken Calvert, who represents Corona, offered this statement: “The mural on the Prado Dam has been a tremendous source of pride in our region for decades. Sadly, over time the mural has deteriorated due to weathering and graffiti. Thankfully, an effort is underway to fix that and, like the rest of the community, I am eager to have a clean and beautiful patriotic mural on Prado Dam once again as a proud symbol of our community’s love for our country.”