National parks are a distinctively American idea. But it takes people to make them happen. This unique, insider's account tells how Bay Area activists forged bipartisan local and national support for an unprecedented campaign to create a great new national park. In 1970, beginning with the former Army lands originally reserved to protect San Francisco Bay, the grassroots People for a Golden Gate National Recreation Area succeeded in preserving all of the spectacular land that frames the Golden Gate.
Spanning more than thirty eventful years, Amy Meyer tells the story of how dedicated citizens, including visionary conservationist Edgar Wayburn, master politician Phillip Burton, and a battalion of lesser-known but key allies made our democratic system work for the common good and won their fight to save these dramatic and historic lands for all of the American people. Pictures by noted California photographers capture the park’s grandeur and new activities. New Guardians for the Golden Gate tells how a bold vision, dedicated citizens, and a variety of old and new conservation strategies saved these magnificent lands for all time.
“Meyer’s primary goal here was to give a thorough and accurate account of a great chapter in California’s environmental history. In that, she has succeeded in spades.”—Scarth Locke Bay Nature
“Amy's is a unique, insider's account that tells how Bay Area activists forged bipartisan local and national support for an unprecedented campaign to create a great new national park.”—Pacifica Tribune
“Meyer is the perfect person to tell the story: She's one of the original players who made up something we now take for granted—tactical community activism. . . . Consider "New Guardians for the Golden Gate" regional history—and more. It's a primer showing how intelligent people with a worthy goal can alter the landscape. Or in this case, keep it the way it was always meant to be.”—John King San Francisco Chronicle
“Open space and wilderness don't save themselves. Dedicated people do. This book is an important reminder of that.”—Kathleen Grant Geib and Paul Rogers San Jose Mercury News
"One of the almost forgotten ingredients in the modern environmental renaissance that exploded in the 1960's and 1970's was the role played by neighbors turned activists turned world savers. New Guardians for the Golden Gate
takes us back to the time before professional environmentalism, when an entire movement was created from the back yard out, powered by the simple belief that no one knew better what should happen to a place than the people who loved it."—Carl Pope, Executive Director, The Sierra Club
"This book is an extraordinary tale of how the collection of historic natural and cultural wonders became the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Of the many books about the creation of individual national parks, this is the most comprehensive story in print of the grassroots coalition and political struggles of park creation. We owe Amy not only for a wonderful park, but for a great story of encouragement to all who work for preservation."—U.S. Rep. Mark E. Souder (R-IN), Co-Founder and Co-Chairman, Congressional National Parks Caucus
"New Guardians for the Golden Gate
is an extraordinary account of a local endeavor which resulted in a national triumph. The inspiring work of community workers and national leaders like Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi teaches us again how each of us can help shape history. Bravo to Amy Meyer for documenting this history and honoring the spirit and determination of those who worked to make the Golden Gate National Recreation Area a gift for future generations."—U.S. Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA)
"This is a marvelous love story between Amy Meyer and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. There is no park elsewhere in the United States that brings together such unique natural and historic resources with such care and sensitivity for public benefit. We are all deeply indebted to her and her colleagues who fought for years to make it happen. Working with great passion and diligence over many years, they succeeded, and it's all here in this wonderfully told, indeed moving story."—Richard Moe, President, National Trust for Historic Preservation
"Each of our National Parks was created because individual Americans stood up and made it happen. New Guardians for the Golden Gate is a compelling and inspirational story of how these great Americans created this park for the benefit of all of us. A great read for all who care about our parks and our democratic process."—Tom Kiernan, President, National Parks and Conservation Association
"Finally, the story has been told, by a principal protagonist, of one of the most important environmental victories of the late 20th century—the creation of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Amy Meyer’s meticulous record-keeping and detailed memory tell the story like no one else could, and in the process, have created a page-turner on par with any good novel. Neighbors, environmentalists, ranchers, politicians, generals and scoundrels interact in this great social history."—Jim Chappell, President, SPUR