Washoe Meadows Update

The nine-year battle by the Washoe Meadows Community to halt the downgrade of California’s Washoe Meadows State Park for subsequent golf course development took a dramatic, positive turn on April 2 when Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo ordered California State Parks Department and Parks Commission to vacate their January 2012 approval of the golf course project. In his ruling the judge cited deficiencies in the project’s final Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
Led by Lynne Paulson, the Washoe Meadows Community works nonstop through legal, legislative, agency, environmental, academic and even golf course design avenues to save Washoe Meadows – located near South Lake Tahoe – which should be protected by the founding 1984 statute that noted the park’s “unique and irreplaceable landscape.” Golf course construction would require the clearing of some 1,600 trees, excessive groundwater use, and excavation that could threaten the Park’s worldwide-known fens, meadows and wildlife habitats.

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Field Notes: The Pace of Extreme Weather over the Last Decade Appears Faster. Is it Natural Variability, Climate Disruption…Or Both?

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Defending The GGNRA

Defense of Place has mounted a campaign to protect the legislative integrity of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) following the imposition of a disputed new General Management Plan by the National Park Service.  The new plan alters the description, access to and usage of many of the 80,000 acres that comprise the GGNRA, whose lands stretch from just south of Tomales Bay near Pt. Reyes, and down through Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo Counties.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Point Reyes Light  published an editorial by Defense of Place campaign leader Laura Lovitt Pandapas that describes the new plan that flouts the intent of Congress’s 1972 historic founding legislation and advances a public-private partnership with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

The dependence on private donations tempts Congress to lessen public appropriations for crucial ongoing operations and maintenance of GGNRA lands and opens the door to outside agendas and influence. For instance, the Conservancy has taken license to “re-branding” the GGNRA  as the “Golden Gate National Parks”  for fund-raising purposes. There is no such entity.

The essay “Recreate-Gate and  the Public-Private Failure is available at http://www.ptreyeslight.com/article/recreate-gate-and-public-private-failure

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Remembering Bill Kortum: Legendary Civic Leader in Sonoma County

Bill Kortum

Bill Kortum 1927-2014

On December 19th 2014, Bill Kortum passed away and left a big hole in our hearts. He was a kind, spirited and gentle soul who loved Sonoma County and the California coast and he dedicated his life to protecting them. He left behind a legacy of coastal access for all Californians. The Resource Renewal Institute offers our deepest condolences to his wife, Lucy and his family.

Born and raised in Sonoma County, Bill followed his dreams and became a veterinarian serving the rural communities in Sonoma County where he fell in love with the animals and the landscape.

Hole in the Head

Hole in the Head, Bodega Head CA

We will remember him for his civic activism: rallying an epic fight in the early 1960s against a proposed nuclear power plant at Bodega Head. Even before it was approved, the Pacific Gas & Electric developers had started excavating the foundation for the plant. This aggressive action only empowered Bill and his allies to fight harder against siting a nuclear plant in this sensitive location. In the end, Bill and the band of citizens proved that the site was inappropriate for siting a nuclear power plant on the active San Andreas earthquake fault. The site of this excavation is now preserved as “The Hole in the Head” and anyone can visit.

Bill is gratefully remembered for leading the battle for California coastal access initiative (Proposition 20) in 1972. This effort later led to the development of the Calievent_236938462fornia Coastal Commission, a body that oversees all development along the California coast and ensures that public access to the coast is maintained. Without Bill, this may not have happened. Imagine, what our coast would look like today?

Bill’s activism taught us about the effectiveness of public outreach and exemplifies the hard work that is required to stand up for one’s beliefs and ideals. His campaigns were door-to-door, petitions, flyers and meetings and being active in local and statewide politics. Today, we just post something on social media where people sitting at home can sign online petitions. Bill did his work personally and he became an icon in Sonoma County. He connected with people, made friends, gave back, and continued his environmental work late into his 80s. Bill founded the nonprofit organization, Coastwalk, in Sonoma County.

In our “Forces of Nature: Environmental Elders Speak” interview with Bill, he shares stories about his activism, his love of Sonoma County and the California Coast, and how he got started with his activism. Our 5 minute video, “Leadership” can be seen by clicking here.

imagesGratefully, the Kortum trail was dedicated and was a place that Bill could appreciate while he was alive. The Kortum trail is located in Northern California on the Sonoma Coast and begins at Wrights Beach and ends at Blind Beach. If anyone deserves a coastal trail, Bill earned this honor.

I last saw Bill in November 2013 when he came to a fundraiser at the Resource Renewal Institute. The following day was sunny and beautiful so my husband images-1and I decided to drive out to the coast. Having no destination in mind, we just parked the car on one of the coastal turnouts and got out. Surprisingly, we found ourselves at the Kortum trailhead! The trail and beach below felt magical that day and we enjoyed the hike immensely. We hiked down to the beach and there I recorded the sounds of the waves. I would like to share that recording with you. In honor of Bill, let’s take a minute of silence to listen to the ocean.


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Remembering Martin Litton, unapologetic rebel


Martin Litton

“You don’t have to be brave to stand alone, you just have to be ornery!” Martin Litton passed away November 30th, 2014 at the age of 97. Martin was an unapologetic rebel — a cantankerous rabble-rouser and eco-warrior for the past seventy years. He was at the center of several important environmental battles of the 20th Century, including the Grand Canyon, Mono Lake, Dinosaur National Monument, and the creation of Redwood National Park in Northern California. He was 95 at the time of our interview and showed no signs of quieting down about the state of our environment.

Since childhood, Mr. Litton has been outspoken about the environment. He never feared speaking truth to power. When he saw something wrong he acted to correct it. At age 18 he wrote his first letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times denouncing the degredation of Mono Lake, whose water was siphoned to the expanding Los Angeles basin. He then worked for the LA Times after returning home from the war, where he was a glider pilot flying sorties over Europe.

Litton was closely affiliated with the Sierra Club for more than 60 years. He served on the Sierra Club Board of Directors from 1964-1972. He led numerous environmental charges and is the author of The Life and Death of Lake Mead. He is known for resisting and stopping proposed dams on the Colorado River as well as fighting the U.S. Forest Service over logging public treasures like California’s giant Sequoia forests. Martin was also a major force in establishing the Redwood National Park and as a writer he often used direct experience and nature photography to inspire others to act.

Martin Litton was well known for his outfitting business, Grand Canyon Dories, which provided his livelihood for 20 years. As a 92 year-old, Martin broke the record of being the oldest person to run the Grand Canyon in a dory. At the time of his death he was president at Sequoia ForestKeeper, an organization he founded. Martin was truly one of a kind and will be missed by the environmental community.

Additional links:

National Geographic

Los Angeles Times



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