Hertha Harrington, Passionate Friend of Nature

Hertha Harrington’s unswerving dedication to Green Foothills’ work for the natural world was contagious. A Green Foothills board member for 13 years, Hertha initiated our annual Nature’s Inspiration celebration in 2003 which honors individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to protecting nature.

Her own abiding passion to preserve nature, especially the Douglas fir/redwood forests surrounding her home in the Skyline Area of San Mateo County, would become the catalyst for change in local timber harvesting rules.

Landmark Local Rule, Landmark Court Ruling

When timber prices surged in the 1990’s, Hertha and many Skyline neighbors became alarmed as “cut and run” loggers began harvesting trees on 5-10-acre parcels right next to their homes.

Hertha reached out to Green Foothills for help. We jumped in, and the result was a landmark local rule championed by now-Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, who was a member of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors at that time.

The State Board of Forestry adopted San Mateo County’s special rule that prohibits timber harvesting within 1,000 feet of homes on lands not zoned for harvesting (TPZ zones), unless owners of adjacent properties approve. A lumber company, Big Creek Lumber, went to court claiming that the State Forest Practices Act preempted the County’s authority over timber harvesting. In a landmark ruling, the State Court of Appeals upheld the buffer zone, declaring that the State Forest Practices Act had the sole authority to regulate how timber is harvested, but counties can determine where.

A Shining Example of Jane Goodall’s Words

Impressed with her experience with Green Foothills and Legislative Advocate Lennie Roberts’ work on the timber harvest issue, Hertha was invited to become a board member in 1993 serving until 2005. Before leaving the board, she recruited Margaret MacNiven to join the Board of Directors. Margaret would go on to serve on Green Foothills board for 7 years, served as Board president, and has chaired the organization’s Development Committee since 2013. “We remained good friends for the rest of her life. She was a thoughtful person and a real presence, and I will miss her,” says MacNiven.

After her time with Green Foothills, Hertha subsequently joined the San Mateo County Parks Foundation Board, the Friends of Woodside Library Board, and contributed to many other causes supporting animals and women in the developing world.

Hertha passed away this May. Her legacy endures both in the forests that surround us and in the friends she made.

Hertha was a shining example of Jane Goodall’s words, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what difference you want to make.” Thank you, Hertha, for making a difference with us and for us. We will miss you!

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