News, notes and follow-ups

« Previous Post | Afterword Home | Next Post »


One year ago: Harriet Allen

September 30, 2010 |  6:00 am


Desert-loving Californians have a hero in Harriet Allen, an environmentalist who mentored generations of desert activists and played a key role in the 1994 passage of the landmark California Desert Protection Act. She died one year ago at age 95.

The Desert Protection Act, signed by President Clinton, made 8 million acres of Southern California desert land off-limits to developers and designated Death Valley and Joshua Tree national monuments as national parks.

Her dedication to protecting the desert was such that Allen once took options on land that could specifically help save the bighorn sheep in a state park area, according to park rangers.

"She waged a decades-long battle to educate everyone that the desert matters," said Elden Hughes, a longtime desert-protection activist. "The fact that the desert has sustained itself as well as it has is a tribute to Harriet Allen. She deserves a big chunk of the credit."

Allen was active in the Sierra Club, joining in the 1930s and serving as chair of its San Diego chapter in 1963. She also was appointed by California Gov. Jerry Brown to the state's Coastal Commission.

When her two younger brothers joined the Navy during World War II, Allen decided to join the WAVES, a division of the Navy made up of women.

For more on the desert protector, read Harriet Allen's obituary by The Times.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Harriet Allen with her two younger brothers. All three served in the Navy during World War II. Credit: Handout