You can help save Star Wars' Tatooine sets from being swallowed by sand

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Apr 9, 2014, 4:14 PM EDT (Updated)

Tatooine is in trouble, and you can help save it.

The sets built by George Lucas and company in the Tunisian desert to serve as the home planet of the Skywalker family in the original Star Wars films weren't exactly constructed in the most hospitable environment. Though the sets have been a popular tourist site for Star Wars fans for decades, harsh conditions and overall wear and tear have taken their toll on the sets from the original Star Wars trilogy and the sets built two decades later for the prequel trilogy. 

Fortunately, Star Wars fans have intervened to save these pieces of cinematic history in the past. Back in 2012, a group of donors raised nearly $12,000 to restore the set from A New Hope that served as the Lars family farmstead, but now there's more work to be done. Now another Star Wars Tatooine set is in danger of being swallowed up by the desert.

Last year we told you that scientists have been using the sets from the Tatooine city of Mos Espa -- Anakin Skywalker's hometown from Episode I: The Phantom Menace -- as a tracking point for sand dune movements in the region. High winds in the region, called Ong Jmel, can move sand dunes several dozen feet each year, and those dunes are rapidly encroaching on the Mos Espa sets. In fact, some of the set has already suffered damage from the dunes.

"Mos Epsa is located in a very windy region, threatened by sand dunes which the wind moves by around 15 meters [about 49 feet] a year. One dune has already buried 10 percent of the site," tourism official Nabil Gasmi told "We managed to remove 8,000 cubic meters of sand in 12 days. Unfortunately some of the set has already collapsed,"

Because Tunisian officials want to boost tourism awareness for the Ong Jmel region, which would include tourists hoping to visit a piece of movie history, efforts began last month to protect the Mos Espa set from the dunes. 

The Tunisian government has already put up a substantial sum to aid in the salvage efforts, but to further the project, and to help fund conservation efforts over the next several years, the Tourism Chamber for the Oasis and Sahara regions has set up a fundraising page on Indiegogo to raise an additional $45,000. Donation levels for the project are set at $25, $100 and $1,000, and if you're willing to donate a grand, you'll get your name on a "commemorative panel" that will be placed at the Mos Espa site.

According to officials, these funds will salvage and help preserve the Mos Espa site for eight to 10 years, so if you think keeping these pieces of sci-fi cinema history above ground for a while longer is worth it, head over and make a donation.

(CNet via CinemaBlend)

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