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SCVNews.com | Sierra Club Names McLean SCV Conservationist of Year | 08-27-2012
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1961 - CalArts grad (MFA '92) and marine biologist Stephen Hillenburg, creator of Spongebob SquarePants, born in Oklahoma; developed prototype for Spongebob while studying at CalArts in 1989. Estimated net worth in 2012: $90 million [story]


Santa Clarita City Councilwoman Marsha McLean is the 2012 recipient of the Sierra Club’s Conservationist of the Year for her work in preserving Elsmere Canyon. The award is from the Santa Clarita Valley chapter of the Sierra Club.

“I am so proud of Marsha’s 25-plus years of work on this issue. It has culminated in Elsmere Canyon not only being saved from becoming a dump, but this beautiful canyon is now preserved and annexed into the City of Santa Clarita. This is a tremendous victory for everyone,” commented Sandra Cattell, Open Space and Wildlands Chair for the Sierra Club Santa Clarita Group.

“Our local Sierra Club gives this award for exemplary environmental work outside of the Sierra Club,” said Santa Clarita Group Chair Dave Morrow. “Past recipients have included the late Frank Havore, Teresa Savaikie, Diane Trautman and Barbara Wampole.”

In the 1980s, Elsmere Canyon was proposed to be the site of a 190-million-ton landfill and would have been the largest dump in the world. A groundswell of opposition from local residents, the City of Santa Clarita, and environmental groups including the Sierra Club was helped by federal legislators and the Walt Disney Co. to stop the landfill proposal.

The 842 acres of open space purchased by the City is now preserved for the public to enjoy. In totality, Elsmere Canyon encompasses about 2,600 acres, including a large part in the Angeles Forest, and 400 acres donated to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

Elsmere Canyon has a myriad of important cultural, historical and natural assets that warrant protecting. It’s a historic passageway between the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys and is a critical wildlife corridor between the Santa Susanna and San Gabriel Mountains. It serves as a greenbelt around Santa Clarita, as well as being part of the Rim of the Valley greenbelt around the San Fernando Valley. The newly proposed Crest to Coast Trail, connecting the Pacific Crest Trail with the Pacific Ocean, passes through it. In addition, the canyon was home to two Indian tribes.

“I led the effort to save Elsmere Canyon from becoming a dump in the 1980’s because I wanted to protect this beautiful canyon and our community from the devastating effects of a trash dump. The legacy we now leave for our families and future generations is significantly different than if the world’s largest landfill had gone into Elsmere Canyon. I am honored to receive this prestigious award from the Santa Clarita Sierra Club Group,” commented Councilmember Marsha McLean.

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