On March 31, Committee for Green Foothills’ advocate Lennie Roberts met a standing ovation as she accepted Bay Nature’s 2019 Citizen Hero Award. Introducing Lennie that evening was Reed Holderman, a veteran environmental conservationist, who praised her extraordinary work to save the San Mateo coast from rampant urban development.
Lennie recounted for the guests at the Berkeley City Club the epic battle of Devil’s Slide, a 4 decades long fight to stop Caltrans from building a 7-mile freeway bypass around a 600 foot long problem. The bypass would have been part of a 6 lane freeway stretching down the coast from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo County. Lennie, Holderman, and many others worked together to prevent this “Los Angelization of the central California coast.” They had to surmount egregious behavior by Caltrans and win court battles and a citizens’ initiative to finally turn the tide and get a tunnel built instead. The tunnel’s construction protected Montara Mountain and McKnee Ranch State Park from the devastation of a bypass and these parks are still enjoyed by residents today.
The success of Devil’s Slide is but one of many in Lennie’s more than four decades of advocacy in San Mateo and Santa Clara County. The story encapsulates the dedication, persistence, depth of knowledge, and passion for the natural world that makes her so deserving of Bay Nature’s recognition. True to form, Lennie accepted the award on behalf of the “Tunnelistas” – the many people who worked alongside her to get the tunnel built.
Thank you to Bay Nature for honoring Lennie’s dedication to representing nature’s interest on behalf of Committee for Green Foothills. It is our privilege to have her as part of our organization for 50 years and look forward to having her continuing to advocate for the protection of our coast and open space.