Lucille Vinyard, a redwoods hero

Activist Dave Van de Mark shares memories about his friend Lucille Vinyard, who helped lead the fight for Redwood National Park.

A grey-haired woman backpacking, with greenery and boulders in the background.
Lucille Vinyard. Photo: Dave Van de Mark

I first met Lucille and Bill Vinyard at a Sierra Club meeting and was invited to their home. On that first visit, I got a rousing pep talk from Lucille about getting involved in establishing a redwood national park. Minute rice takes longer to make than it took to create a lasting friendship! She was so warm, gracious, super friendly, totally disarming, and a delightful storyteller with a curiosity about everything around her. Plus, there was something new and serious in the air she had to tell me all about: if there was ever going to be a great redwood national park, it better happen soon.

Further visits brought clarity regarding Lucille’s character—her integrity, honesty, drive, determination, persistence, and just good old-fashioned savvy. Those were the foundations that made this woman ready to take on anything. And, oh my goodness! She was just so dynamically magnetic in those days. Everyone wanted to make their way to meet her—kind of like iron filings to that magnet.

The Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, the National Parks Association, and National Geographic all came to her. They recognized her leadership qualities and sought her assistance for the difficult task of generating local support for a park.

A grey-haired woman sits and cooks on a camp stove, surrounded by greenery
Lucille, the tired cook, after walking nearly 30 miles in the Marble Mountains. Photo: Dave Van de Mark

And newspapers, magazines, and TV stations had to come, too, and Lucille’s place was where the action was. Their home was nothing if not informal. I recall an eastern newspaperman, more conditioned to staid levels of decorum, being invited to just spend the night there rather than head off to a motel. The next morning, there he was, walking around in his under shorts taking notes!

Life at the Vinyards’ during the redwood park battle was indeed special. But if you were looking for relaxation, that wasn’t the place to go! From late 1964 to October 1968, the intensity of that endeavor sapped all our energy to near exhaustion. I credit Lucille’s remarkable composure and focus for keeping us all going.

Never were Lucille’s qualities of determination and persistence more evident than during the 10 years it took to expand Redwood National Park. At the park’s dedication, we had to listen to some folks tell us, “This is all you get, you have your park—now go home and shut up!” Lucille and others in the newly formed Emerald Creek Committee ignored that lousy advice and didn’t stop till we got what was right. Sadly, we lost some beautiful forest adjacent to the park before Congress acted again.

Black and white photo of a large coast redwood tree in a forest, with a person standing among large ferns next to the tree.
Lucille Vinyard looking at a giant redwood in Elam Creek. Photo: Dave Van de Mark

When it was finally over, Lucille and I were awarded the Sierra Club’s second highest honor—the Special Achievement Award—for our 13 years of redwood efforts and also wilderness preservation work. It was all due to Lucille that I shared these incredible experiences.

About the author

Dave Van de Mark is a photographer who has been photographing the lands around Redwood National and State Parks for more than 50 years.

bear reading the blog
Get the latest redwood updates in your inbox

3 Responses to “Lucille Vinyard, a redwoods hero”

  1. Steve Moore

    I also fondly remember Lucille from 1969-1970, when I was active at the south end of the Redwood Chapter/ Sierra Club. I, too, stayed in her beautiful home during a Chapter leaders meeting and tour of the new Park. It remains in my memory the logging trucks rolling by on Bald Hills Road during that tour, and the recent clearcut of primeval redwoods mere steps from the trail in the Lady Bird Johnson Grove.

  2. Laura Julian

    What a beautiful article! Thank you.

  3. Joanne Martin

    What a treat to read about Lucille… She was one of a kind…an enthusiastic, loud and proud woman who cared deeply about the redwoods. And yes…I agree…she was instrumental in saving the redwoods. Thanks for sharing your memories!


Leave a Reply