In 1959 a band of citizens in the Palo Alto-Los Altos Hills area organized with the specific purpose of keeping the “factories out of the foothills.” The catalyst for their concern: a proposal by Stanford University to annex 254 acres to Palo Alto in order to allow industrial development west of what is now Foothill Expressway — but was then a small road winding along the foot of the hills. A referendum was held to decide the issue, but the opposition was well organized, and the pro-open space forces lost.
Three years passed during which it became clear that the foothills would disappear if a concerted effort were not made to save them. In May of 1962, Lois Crozier-Hogle gathered 27 citizens from this first open space battle for a meeting at Ruth Spangenberg’s home. The group decided that evening to organize to preserve the foothills — thus Committee for Green Foothills was begun.
The group elected as their first president Wallace Stegner, novelist and then head of creative writing at Stanford University. He wrote the “Wildnerness Letter,” which was instrumental in voicing the intrinsic worth of wilderness. He remained an active supporter and spokesman for CGF for the rest of his life.
We are grateful to all of our founding members for having the foresight to protect open space when it must have seemed that the peninsula had plenty of it.
Committee for Green Foothills Founding Members
and Michael Wills