Mary Bowerman and Art Bonwell
Dr. Bowerman was co-founder of Save Mount Diablo in 1971, was Vice President for Resources until 1995, and continued to serve on the Land Acquisition Committee until her death in August of 2005. Dr. Bowerman was a botanist and a student of the flora and vegetation of Mount Diablo for over seventy years. She received her PhD from the University of California at Berkeley and authored The Flowering Plants and Ferns of Mount Diablo, California; Their Distribution and Association into Plant Communities, The Gillick Press, 1944. Her book has been updated and was republished in 2002 by the University of California at Berkeley’s Jepson Herbarium. She received many awards--including a State of California Golden Bear award, the Chevron Times Mirror Magazine National Conservation Award, Diablo Magazine’s Threads of Hope Award and the Daughters of the American Revolution’s National Conservation Medal--for her work with Save Mount Diablo. Mount Diablo State Park's Fire Interpretive Trail is named in her honor. She was further honored by East Bay Regional Park District in 2001 when the crest of Highland Ridge, in Morgan Territory Regional Preserve, was renamed “Founders Ridge” in honor of Save Mount Diablo’s founders. Dr. Bowerman was a resident of the Bay area since 1928 and lived in Lafayette for her last 50 years.
"I thought Mount Diablo could use more attention." Art
Watch a brief history of Save Mount Diablo through Art's eyes.
Art Bonwell and Mary L. Bowerman
The problem with the accomplishments of Art Bonwell and Mary L. Bowerman, cofounders of Save Mount Diablo, is that you can’t see them. Literally. You can’t see the hundreds – perhaps thousands – of houses that would have overrun the foothills during the past 30 years and would be creeping up the slopes of Mount Diablo were it not for their work.
The two activists met at the local chapter meetings of the Sierra Club in 1969. Bonwell, an engineer, was an avid cyclists interested in environmental issues. Bowerman, a botanist who wrote her doctoral dissertation on the plants of Mount Diablo, would often describe the glories of the mountain to the Sierra Club members. In 1971, irritated that the state of California used money earmarked for Mount Diablo State Park expansion for another purpose, Bonwell asked Bowerman, “Isn’t it about time we did something about Mount Diablo?”
Bonwell, the organizer, invited representatives of local groups, from parks and recreation commissions to the American Association of University Women. About 20 people showed up, and each contributed 25 cents for postage costs. “Just because we didn’t know where we wanted to go didn’t mean we shouldn’t start out,” says Bonwell, 73, who sits on the Save Mount Diablo Board of Directors and maintains the Web page.
Then, as now, Save Mount Diablo faced two obstacles
– ignorance and scarcity of financial resources. Most people believe
Mount Diablo is state park land that is already “saved”. The
truth is that much of the land is privately owned grassland, potentially
ripe for development. As private parcels become available, Save Mount
Diablo needs the money to buy them, or the clout to pressure the State
parks Department or the East Bay Regional Park District to do so.
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