Save The Bay Founder Honored with State Park Naming

Sylvia planting
Sylvia McLaughlin plants Save The Bay’s 100,000th native seedling. photo credit:

I know that I speak for all of my colleagues when I say that Sylvia McLaughlin is one of my heroes. Sylvia founded Save The Bay in 1961 with her friends Kay Kerr and Esther Gulick and has been a tireless advocate on behalf of San Francisco Bay since then. Now Sylvia will have a fitting tribute when she becomes one of two women to have a California State Park named after her. After a unanimous vote by the California State Park and Recreation Commission, Eastshore State Park – which Sylvia helped to create – will be re-named McLaughlin Eastshore State Park.

Clearly stated, the Bay wouldn’t be the thriving natural treasure it is today without the tireless work of Sylvia and her friends. The “tea ladies” as they were initially called, stopped rampant fill and dumping and prevented the Bay from becoming a narrow, polluted river. What makes Sylvia even more impressive is that she saved the Bay during a time when woman weren’t respected as leaders as they are today, when filling in the Bay was considered progress and the word “environmentalism” didn’t even exist. But Sylvia saw her beautiful Bay disappearing before her eyes and decided to do something about it. And she didn’t give up when it became hard and when powerful men told her she would fail. And she has hardly slowed down since then. Just a few years ago, Sylvia helped two students plant Save The Bay’s 100,000th native wetland seedling along the Oakland shoreline. And she recently attended one of our restoration projects reminding volunteers, “the Bay is never saved – it is always in the process of being saved.”

I encourage you to leave a note of congrats for Sylvia in the comments section of this blog and we will share your notes with her. I’ll get that started by saying, “Sylvia, congratulations. And thank you for saving the Bay.”

18 thoughts on “Save The Bay Founder Honored with State Park Naming

  1. As a former employee, I am particularly thankful for Sylvia’s leadership and vision. Her work to save the Bay inspired me to do the same. And it still does. Congrats Sylvia! I can’t think of a more deserving person to receive this honor.

  2. It is good to see once again California honoring its environmental heroes, for heroes they are.

  3. This really is deserved — though it seems it is overdue. Better late than ever.

    It is more correct to call her a heroine than a hero.

    Who is the other female a park is named for?

  4. This really is deserved.

    It’s more correct to call Sylvia a heroine than a hero.

    Who is the other female a park is named for?

  5. All Californian’s owe a debt of gratitude for Silvia’s insight, efforts and fortitude in protecting one of the state’s greatest resources. Congratulations on this honor, it will leave a lasting impression for generations to come.

  6. Sylvia,
    Thank you for saving San Francisco Bay, and thank you for being a strong female role model for me and all female advocates. I once asked you if you were ever scared when you were in the heat of establishing BCDC. And you said, no, you do what is right. I have often thought about those words when I’ve faced a tough work day. Congratulations on this amazing honor. You deserve it!
    With admiration,

  7. Thank you to everybody for honoring my grandmother, Sylvia McLaughlin. She is a force of nature. It is an honor for my family to have her name as the Park’s name.

    And thank you to Jane Welford for mentioning the great gift that my own mother is to the world.

  8. OMGosh! I love it, Well done Sylvia. I am going to have to visit the Mc Laughlin Park, especially as it is named after a wonderful lady with the exact same name as myself! How cool is that? Sylvia we should meet for a coffee.

  9. Thank you for your persistence in pursuing your vision for San Francisco Bay. I’m so very happy that CA State Parks is blessing your legacy with the naming of Eastshore Park after you. Your first name should be included as in Sylvia McLaughlin State Park, yes?. As you and I have discussed, the park system (state and national) is the best idea in America. I am grateful for your support of my expanded career in archaeology and strengthening the linkage between cultural and natural resources in our park system and other sites.

  10. I am so grateful for your persistent efforts to save the bay. What if you hadn’t cared? We all owe you our thanks and congratulations.

  11. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done. Maybe we should name the entire bay after the three of you that had the courage to stand up and fight for all of us.

  12. Julie and I thank you for your bountiful vision and careful vigilance about protecting the Bay. For over thirty years, we have benefited from your vision. Looking forward to the next thirty years and even thirty decades, generations will continue to benefit from your inspiration and actions. Thank you.

  13. Sylvia McLaughlin, Kay Kerr and Esther Gulick should be an inspiration to environmentalists and activists of all stripes everywhere. The story of their efforts should be taught in civics classes everywhere. Sylvia McLaughlin’s observation that “the Bay is never saved, it’s in the process of being saved” should also be a reminder to everyone that great causes are not about winning a battle or a war (after which we just take a siesta and forget the issue), but rather about a continuous struggle to hold and improve our position.

  14. Thank you for your foresight in seeing what would be lost if the developers had had their way!You are an inspiration to young people to continue the work of restoring marshes and preventing abuse of this great estuarine resource. Congrats on the Park naming!

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