Holiday Angels: Dr. Edgar Wayburn

The Examiner celebrates people who made a difference in 2006

Occupation: Retired UCSF and Stanford internist, five-time president of the Sierra Club

Residence: San Francisco

What he did: Wayburn, 100, envisioned the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and lobbied tirelessly for years with late Bay Area Congressman Phil Burton to create a unique urban national park from Point Reyes to Crystal Springs Lake. With that fight won, Wayburn then became the leader of a 13-year push for the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980, which protected 104 million acres of irreplaceable wilderness and doubled the size of the U.S. national park system.

Why he did it: “When I returned home from World War II in 1946, I saw how rapidly the Bay Area was losing its open space,” Wayburn said. “Only in Marin County was the landscape unchanged. I realized if I wanted to see this area protected, I’d need to step in and do something about it myself.”

The impact: “He has saved more of our wilderness than any person alive,” President Bill Clinton said when presenting Wayburn with the U.S. Medal of Freedom in 1999.

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