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.”