“For many years of advocacy and work to benefit the water quality of
Marin’s watersheds and streams that benefit both fish habitat and the community at large.”
Speech Given at MCL Annual Awards Dinner
Friday April 25, 2008
On behalf of SPAWN’s thousands of volunteers, members, and staff, I humbly accept this award. I also accept
this award on behalf of the magnificent coho salmon that are struggling to survive in Marin.
It is especially rewarding to receive this honor from the Marin Conservation League, with its long history of
bold vision and action that helped create the environmental legacy we all love and enjoy today.
As many of you know, for years SPAWN has been alarmed by continued development in the critical habitat of
the endangered coho, which is mostly occurring one house at a time.
Each time a new house is proposed, the County of Marin has determined that there is “no significant impact”
and has allowed development to proceed.
Of course, if we look at each new house individually, it is easy to reach a conclusion of “no significant impact.”
For years we have insisted that the county of Marin look beyond the impact of each new house–and analyze
the additive impact of new development that comes on top of past, current and future potential development
impact. In fact, California environmental law requires that they do so, but the county has chosen to ignore us,
and the law until now.
After more than six years, the county of Marin has finally agreed to do this study in the San Geronimo Valley,
the most important habitat for California coho salmon, and that is still under threat. In addition, the county has
agreed to a 2 yr moratorium on development inside the 100-foot stream buffer area, while that study is
And this could not have come at a more critical time. This past year has been of great consequence for Marin’s
coho and salmon throughout California. As many of you already know, coho spawning numbers were way
down, –w/a 70% decline from 3 years ago.
With reduced numbers throughout the region, the importance of the san Geronimo valley, where spawn has
concentrated its energy, has become even more obvious. In fact, the 9-square mile san Geronimo valley
watershed only represents i/10 of 1% of the watershed areas where central California’s coho are found — yet
30% of all the wild coho that spawned this year in central California occurred in this tiny valley.
The public pressure to conduct this vitally important study while “taking a time out for coho” was accomplished
thru the collective work of a coalition of environmental organizations and advocates, including of course, the
Marin Conservation League and many of you sitting here in the audience.
For that, spawn and the coho of Marin thank you greatly. Of course this is no time to rest on our laurels.
If we are to save the coho, and the wild Marin we love, we need to re-invigorate the passion and effectiveness
of the original pioneers of the MCL. We need to work for the victories we dream of, and not get caught in the
thinking of those who would tell us our dreams are ” not realistic.”
So dream back the coho to all the streams of Marin, where those streams run strong and clean, and where our
children can play in them without fear of contracting water-borne illnesses.
And then fight for your dreams. Then we will be sure that we will leave a legacy for our children and
grandchildren that the founders of the Marin Conservation League would be proud of.
Happy earth day!