The Environmental Action Committee of West Marin was founded in 1971 by a group of citizens who wanted both to protect the region from immediate threats and to foster a wider understanding of its unique qualities.
The Environmental Action Committee of West Marin is a tenacious, highly effective grassroots advocacy organization founded in 1971 that is dedicated to the protection and appreciation of West Marin’s wild lands, wildlife, wilderness, watersheds, and rural character.
EAC works for clean air, pure waters, healthy ecosystems, a diverse and thriving native flora and fauna, and the preservation of a rural, community spirit. EAC uses law, policy, science, and education to:
- monitor, publicize, and campaign against threats to West Marin’s natural environment,
- educate the public and policy-makers about the environmental issues facing West Marin,
- provide reliable information about controversial issues in order to create a common ground of understanding and promote informed debate, and
- encourage and facilitate productive resolutions to land-use conflicts by working closely with those who own, manage, and use West Marin’s lands.
West Marin consists of 13 unincorporated communities.
In the absence of local government, EAC provides an essential voice on behalf of the area’s priceless natural resources before the many boards, commissions, and agencies of County, State, and Federal government. As the only regionwide environmental watchdog and the only environmental advocacy group in West Marin with an office and staff, EAC has the successful advocacy experience and an intimate day-to-day knowledge of the area that environmental groups based elsewhere do not have.
EAC’s mission is to protect and enhance the natural environment of West Marin. We have been doing that for more than 40 years.
Some of our many past accomplishments:
- One of EAC’s first battles was over a plan to dike the southern end of Tomales Bay and destroy its tidal wetlands. EAC organized a well-publicized “sail-in” of local craft that drew attention to the scheme and mobilized public opposition to it. The campaign was successful: the filling was stopped. In the same year, EAC was an important voice in the chorus of criticism that ultimately killed the County’s West Marin Plan, which called for a six-lane highway from the Golden Gate Bridge to Point Reyes and 1.3 million new homes in West Marin.
- In the late 1980s, when a consortium of waste haulers tried to expand the West Marin dump into a regional landfill, EAC helped form Waste Watch, a coalition of community groups that engaged in a nearly decade-long struggle and ultimately succeeded in stopping the expansion.
- In 1991 EAC sponsored a habitat survey of Stinson Beach’s Easkoot Creek that became a keystone of the Bolinas Lagoon Management Plan.
- In the early 1990s, when Santa Rose decided to dump its sewage water in West Marin, threatening the fragile ecosystems of Estero Americano and Estero San Antonio, EAC was there. In conjunction with Friends of the Estero, we sued the City of Santa Rose, forcing it to drop the plan.
- In 1992, when the Park Service announced a plan to kill Tule elk for herd reduction, EAC successfully opposed it. We then worked with the Park Service to develop an innovative plan to use contraceptives to humanely control herd size.
- EAC has co-produced four State of Tomales Bay Conferences. These have focused scientific attention on the health of the Bay and its watershed, raised public awareness of the issues facing the Bay, and forged important links between scientists, researchers, environmentalists, ranchers, and public agencies.
- In the mid-1990s, when developers proposed the Marin Coast Golf Ranch, a golf course and luxury home development at the mouth of Estero San Antonio, EAC was there. Our aggressive campaign against it, forced the developers to withdraw their proposal. When a Singapore group then stepped in with a scheme to build million-dollar trophy homes, we kept up the pressure until they too bowed out.
- In 1995, when the Mt. Vision fire destroyed scores of homes on the Inverness Ridge, EAC published the Phoenix Report, which provided crucial advice to fire victims and others about how to live with and protect the vulnerable Inverness Ridge ecosystem.
- In 1996, EAC conceived, published the acclaimed West Marin Green Guide on recycling, reuse, reduction.
- In 1998, EAC produced “Madre Tierra Solo Hay Una,” a ground-breaking environmental educational video aimed at the Hispanic community, the first such bilingual video in the United States.
- In 1999, EAC stopped CalTrans from cutting down most of the trees on Point Reyes Station’s Main Street, Highway One.
- In 2000, EAC convinced the County that the Master Plan for Lawson’s Landing requires a full Environmental Impact Report because of the potential impact on Tomales Dunes.
International recognition for Tomales Bay
EAC led the charge to secure international recognition for Tomales Bay. The US Department of the Interior and the International Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands (commonly known as the Ramsar Convention after the Iranian city in which it was signed) have accepted EAC’s nomination of Tomales Bay as a Wetland of International Importance. There are only 18 other Ramsar sites in the United States, and only one other in California, Bolinas Lagoon. To qualify, Tomales Bay had to meet rigorous standards. Among its notable characteristics: it supports more than 50 species of waterbirds, numbering more than 20,000 individuals; it is visited by more than 1% of the world’s populations of black brant, dunlin, and western sandpiper and is home to 10% of California’s coho salmon; it is a major spawning ground for Pacific herring; and it supports 13 threatened or endangered species.
Former EAC board member and president, Jules Evens provided the scientific data for the nomination, which the Interior Department said was the most compelling Ramsar nomination it has ever received. The nomination was seconded by Ed Ueber, former Manager of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, and Don Neubacher, former Superintendent of the Seashore, which are the two entities that “manage” Tomales Bay. We also had the support of Senator Barbara Boxer, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, Supervisor Steve Kinsey, and many other individuals and community groups. Edgar Wayburn, who led the effort to have Bolinas Lagoon named a Ramsar site, advised and encouraged us. In naming Tomales Bay a Ramsar site, the United States has made a commitment to the international community to protect its ecological character.
- In 2001, after five years of campaigning, EAC convinced the federal government to issue regulations banning jet skis from the Gulf of the Farallones Marin Sanctuary, including all of Tomales Bay. At 948 square nautical miles, this is now the largest jet ski-free area in the country-and one of the largest in the world.
- In 2001, EAC formed the “Steelhead Coalition” with other environmental groups and convinced the Board of Supervisors to reverse a Planning Commission decision allowing the Shakespeare at Stinson theater company to put several buildings in the Stream Conservation Area of Stinson Beach’s Easkoot Creek, a steelhead stream.
Jet skis banned from Tomales Bay and the Marin coast
In 2001, after five years of campaigning, EAC convinced the federal government to issue regulations banning jetskis from the Gulf of the Farallones Marin Sanctuary, including all of Tomales Bay. At 948 square nautical miles. this is the largest jetski-free area in the country-and one of the largest in the world. When the ban was announced, Ed Ueber, Manager of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sancutary, sent us this message.
The work, patience and perseverance done and shown by EAC has lead to a precedent-setting and forward-looking way to protect the valuable, beautiful and mysterious resources of the Gulf of the Farallones. You should all be very proud. The world, nation and I thank you.
Banning Genetically Modified Organisms from Marin Agriculture
In November 2004, Marin voters approved a ballot initiative to ban Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) from Marin agriculture.
Protecting Agricultural Lands and Salmon Creeks
EAC has succeeded in stopping or altering many residential developments planned for agricultural lands, in Bolinas, Nicasio, on the East side of Tomales Bay. EAC has succeeded in stopping or altering many developments proposed for Stream Conservation Areas throughout West Marin. This protection work is ongoing.
Tomales Dunes Protection at Lawson’s Landing
After forty years of advocacy, in July 2011 EAC was successful in protecting a rare treasure in Marin County, the Tomales Dunes-wetlands complex, when the California Coastal Commission heeded EAC’s call to strike a balance between protecting environmentally sensitive habitat and supporting the continued operation of this large, family-owned coastal campground. For more information on EAC’s tremendous effort over the years to protect this rare habitat, visit the Tomales Dunes page.
Industrial Wind Towers on East Shore of Tomales Bay
In the fall of 2010, Marin County was prepared to allow guy-wired study towers for industrial wind turbines to be sited on the ridgelines of the East Shore of Tomales Bay without any environmental review. EAC led the charge to successfully challenge the County’s unlawful, arbitrary approval of the towers. EAC is working to ensure that any wind turbines are the appropriate height, style, and are sited appropriately to protect West Marin’s huge avi-fauna diversity.
Local Coastal Program Amendment
Since 2009, EAC has attended every public hearing and workshop held by the Marin County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors regarding the Local Coastal Program Amendment. EAC continues to work tirelessly to ensure that existing protections for our precious coastal resources, which are state and national treasures, are not weakened by the LCP Amendment. Visit the Coastal Protection for more information about EAC’s tireless efforts to protect West Marin’s Coastal Resources.
Board of Directors
Bridger Mitchell, Ph.D, President
Bridger and his wife Katherine are actively involved in the West Marin community. Bridger returned to Inverness after more than five decades of extended weekend family trips to visit his parents and sail on Tomales Bay. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His professional career has focused on anti-trust and telecommunications regulation, energy policy, and health care. He is a director of the Inverness Association and has monitored closely Marin County’s coastal development proceedings for many years.
Ken Drexler, Esq., Vice-President
Ken is an estate planning attorney in San Rafael. He formerly chaired the State Bar Commission on Administration of Justice and serves as Secretary to the PRE Road Advisory Board. He is a member of the California Planning & Conservation League, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Sierra Club, among environmental non-profits, and serves on the Board of of the Marin Conservation League.
Terence Carroll, Treasurer
Terence Carroll has been a been an EAC board member since January 2007. He served for three years on the board of the San Geronimo Valley Planning Group, including one as Vice Chair. A long-time volunteer with SPAWN, Terence has been active in protecting and conserving the habitat of the endangered salmon in Lagunitas Creek. He is a member of the Environmental Forum of Marin Class XXX. Terence and his wife have lived in West Marin since 1998.
David Wimpfheimer, Secretary
David Wimpfheimer, is a biologist and a professional naturalist and guide with a passion for birds and the natural history of the West. During twenty-five years of excursions, David has imparted a great deal of information about all aspects of nature. He plans and leads trips sponsored by organizations, such as the Point Reyes Field Seminars, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Elderhostel and several Audubon chapters. He is also an accomplished wildlife photographer. More info is available at www.calnaturalist.com.
Mairi Pileggi, Ph.D.
Mairi is the Director of the Women & Gender Studies Program at Dominican University. Her research interests center on social justice, social change & civic engagement and are currently focused on food systems and the environment, drawing from the disciplines of sociology, communication & cultural studies. Mairi has lived in West Marin for over fifteen years and enjoys walking its magnificent beaches and trails, cooking, and introducing youth to West Marin’s wilderness areas.
Gerald Meral, Ph.D.
Gerald H. Meral, Ph.D. is the Director of the California Water Program at the Natural Heritage Institute, an international conservation organization focused on restoring and preserving aquatic ecosystems. He directs NHI programs regarding the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, California groundwater, and other related water programs. He previously worked for Governor Edmond G. Brown, Jr, serving as California Natural Resources Agency Deputy Secretary for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) for three years from 2011 to 2013. Dr. Meral was executive director of the Planning and Conservation League from 1983 to 2003. He served as deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources from 1975 to 1983 under Governor Brown. Dr. Meral holds a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of California, Berkeley. He lives in Inverness with his wife Barbara.
David Weinsoff, Esq.
David is an environmental attorney in Fairfax, where he has served on the Town Council since 2005. The focus of his environmental work is litigation under the California Coastal Act and the federal Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts. David is a former member of the Marin Conservation League’s Board of Directors and teaches environmental law to the next generation of young Marin environmentalists at Dominican University.
Daniel Dietrich is a professional wildlife photographer and a certified California Naturalist. His travels have taken him and his camera to every continent on the planet to photograph wildlife. When home, he spends nearly every day in Point Reyes National Seashore. Daniel lives in Point Reyes with his wife Jessica and daughters Evelyn and Ruby.
Morgan Patton, Executive Director
Morgan is a fifth-generation Marin County resident and environmental advocate raised in the Sonoma Valley and West Marin. Holding a deep appreciation for the environment and environmental education, she earned her undergraduate degree in Humanities with an concentration in Environment, Culture, and Sustainability from Dominican University. Joining EAC in 2011, she strengthened the organization with her strong membership relationship management, project management, and communications skills, which were developed over a decade in the health and wellness industry. In 2015, she began to build community through a process called “citizen-science” that promotes civic engagement through coastal and marine science education. She spearheaded EAC’s work in the Marin Marine Protection Area Watch, in collaboration with the Point Reyes National Seashore and California Academy of Science. Through this program, she has tripled the volunteer team and partnered with local high schools, colleges, and community centers to inspire the next generation of environmental advocates. “West Marin has always been a part of me. I spent most of my childhood in Dogtown on my great-grandmother and great-aunt’s property. I have fond memories of Bolinas and Stinson beaches, of horseback riding on our trails, exploring the outdoors and building forts with my cousins. Not many people have the chance to nurture the community and environment that nurtured them, and I appreciate this wonderful opportunity to give back.”
Bettina Jefferis, Finance and Membership Director
Catherine Caufield, Program Director
Catherine was Executive Director of EAC from 1999 to 2006. In her previous career as a writer she concentrated on environmental issues and international development. From 1980 to 1984 she was the environmental correspondent for New Scientist magazine. Her work has also appeared in London Review of Books, The New Yorker, the Guardian, the International Herald Tribune, and the Christian Science Monitor. She has written several books, among them In the Rainforest (1985), which called attention to the value of and threats to tropical rainforests. She continues to work for EAC to protect the Tomales Dunes and wetlands at the mouth of Tomales Bay.
Fiona O’Kelly, Point Reyes Birding and Nature Festival Coordinator
Fiona is a career outdoor educator and Naturalist who has lived in Point Reyes for the past twelve years. She grew up in San Mateo County and graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in Environmental Studies and a Biology minor. She has led nature hikes for the public and for children all over the Bay Area for the past two decades and is currently a hiking guide for Blue Waters Kayaking here in Point Reyes. Her passion is for sharing her love of the natural world with people of all ages – especially hoping to inspire the next generation of stewards by getting them out there in the wilds of the world.
Jessica Taylor, Point Reyes Birding and Nature Festival Evening Events Coordinator
Jessica’s first love of the outdoors came as a young child in Illinois where she spent whole days playing outside, collecting fireflies, riding bikes and tilling the soil in her Grandma’s backyard. Later, family camping trips fueled her desire to find a career in the outdoors. Her professional career has included working as a crew leader for the Youth Conservation Corp for three summers in Yosemite National Park, as an Interpretive Park Guide and Volunteer Coordinator for Point Reyes National Seashore for seven years, and as the Annual Fund Manager for Point Reyes National Seashore Association for 9.5 years. She brings with her years of experience in development, managing events, working with volunteers and youth, while bringing with her a deep sense of connection to the park, people and places that make up our West Marin community. Jessica holds a B.A. in Communications with a minor in Public Relations from Sonoma State University, A.S. in Forestry with a minor in Interpretation and A.A. degree from Reedley College.
Conner Cimmiyotti, Marin MPA Watch Coastal Advocate
Conner is a senior at Sonoma State University and will be graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Biology in 2016. Conservation and the environment have always been an important part of his life. Working for the Marin MPA Watch has given him the opportunity to have a positive impact on his local community and allows him to reach out and get other citizen scientists involved in a wonderful cause. When Conner is not at school or working, he enjoys snowboarding, rock climbing, surfing, scuba diving, and exploring new hiking trails with his puppy.
Erin Barto, Marin MPA Watch Coastal Advocate
Erin is a high school senior at Sir Francis Drake High School. She is a member of the SEA-DISC program, an environmentally centered academy for upperclassmen. She is also the president of the Daraja Club at school, a club that raises money to send underprivileged girls to secondary school in Kenya, Africa. When not in school, she participates in club soccer, loves going to the beach, and works at Sugar, a local candy store in downtown San Anselmo. Erin has always had a great love for nature, instilled in her at a young age by her parents Lisa and Peter, both having grown up in California as well. This love for the environment greatly contributes to her joy of working with the EAC, as she has always wanted to help preserve the natural beauty of the California coasts. Erin is our second high school intern participating in the Marin MPA Watch program internship for the program year 2015-2016.