Women and the Redwoods: Three Inspiring Stories

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Do you know the story of this beautiful park’s namesake? Photo by Frank Kehren, Flickr Creative Commons.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Do you know the story of this beautiful park’s namesake? Photo by Frank Kehren, Flickr Creative Commons.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, I want to share the inspiring stories of local women who pioneered redwoods conservation — one of whom was a literal pioneer! Check out these three inspirational women who fought to protect the redwood forest.

  1. Julia Pfeiffer Burns, namesake of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, was a lifelong Big Sur resident and rancher. A truly independent frontier woman, she ran her family’s ranch and didn’t marry until she was in her mid-forties. By all accounts, she was a fun-loving, hard worker who led children “on many joyous excursions to what now is Pfeiffer Beach.” In 1924, a former New York congressman acquired the land that would later become the park. Julia made such an impression on the congressman’s wife, Helen, that she insisted that the property be dedicated to Julia’s memory in their 1961 bequest of the land to the State of California.
  2. The Forest of Nisene Marks is named after the nature-loving mother of a Salinas farming family. Widowed at a young age and left to raise three children, Nisene’s small egg business became successful enough to enable her to buy landaround Monterey Bay. Her children decided to dedicate the land to the State of California in 1963, with the provision that the land never be developed — just as Nisene would have wanted. Save the Redwoods League has helped add an additional 357 acres to the park.
  3. This inspirational woman is not a historical figure — yet! Linda Perkins, a former elementary school teacher, has spent over twenty years dedicated to the preservation of the redwood forest. She’s educated herself extensively, becoming an expert on issues facing the Mendocino environment, and advocates for the forest’s protection. Perkins was honored earlier this month at the Mendocino Women’s Political Coalition (MWPC) 31st Annual Women’s History Gala Celebration. She told the Ukiah Daily Journal that “the basic belief fueling my activities is that the forest’s public trust values are a commons that must be protected for the community of people who live here, and for generations to come.

Which women have inspired you? Share with us in the comments below!

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About Jennifer Benito-Kowalski

Jennifer joined Save the Redwoods League in 2007 as the Director of Outreach, charged with leading the organization's marketing communications and outreach efforts to connect people to the peace and beauty of the redwood forests.

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2 Responses to “Women and the Redwoods: Three Inspiring Stories”

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    Robin Gerber

    Hi, I was wondering what your sources were for Julia Pfeiffer Burns, particularly the story about her playing with the children. thanks!

  2. Californie : jour 8 | Laurent Queyssi

    […] Pfeiffer State Park (oui, je sais, tout s’appelle Julia Pfeiffer ici, mais lisez donc son histoire, c’est passionnant). C’est ici que se trouve la McWay Falls, la seule cascade des US […]


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