[env-trinity] High Country News 11 08 10

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Tue Nov 9 10:37:02 PST 2010


BWL editorial comment:  Bill Berry was one of the greatest contributors to
the restoration and the saving of California's wild fisheries.  He was a
genuine hero.

Info


HCN bids farewell to an old friend


News - From the November 08, <http://www.hcn.org/issues/42.19>  2010 issue
of High Country News by Paul Larmer and Jodi Peterson 

 
<http://www.hcn.org/issues/42.19/hcn-bids-farewell-to-an-old-friend/image_vi
ewer>
http://www.hcn.org/issues/42.19/hcn-bids-farewell-to-an-old-friend/68962_101
410_1.jpg/image_mini

Sometimes we are fortunate enough to get a closer look at the lives of our
remarkable readers. Shortly after longtime HCN reader and donor William L.
Berry Jr. died on Sept. 30 from pancreatic cancer, two of his sons, John and
Scott, got in touch with us to tell us a bit more about their dad. Some of
what follows is from the obituary they wrote, which appeared in the
Sacramento Bee Oct. 14.

Born in Los Angeles, Calif., in 1932, Bill moved as a high school student to
Sacramento, where his father worked for the State Division of Water
Resources and was one of the principal architects of the California Water
Plan. His father's role in the plan -- which resulted in the damming of many
important rivers -- and seemingly contradictory love for fly-fishing on
unspoiled streams would become grist for Bill in later years.

Bill shared his dad's enthusiasm for rivers, and, during college, developed
his own passion for trains, working summers as an assistant brakeman on the
Southern Pacific line. After a long career as an attorney, Bill's two early
interests literally collided in 1991, when a Southern Pacific train derailed
and dumped an herbicide into the Upper Sacramento River, killing all aquatic
life for 40 miles downstream. Bill labored for the next 10 years to force
the railroad to implement safety measures that would prevent future
derailments. Although Southern Pacific eventually had to pay a substantial
fine, change certain operating procedures and build a containment structure,
the more far-reaching safety reforms sought by Bill and his allies were
rebuffed in the courts.

Years later, Frank Pipgras, an executive at the conservation group
California Trout, wrote, "If I had to name the one person most responsible
for extracting a $38,000,000 settlement and bringing the railroad to its
knees, it was and still is Bill Berry." In recognition of his efforts,
California Trout presented Bill with its Joseph Paul Award in 2003. Today
the Upper Sacramento again supports a healthy population of wild trout,
which Bill enjoyed fishing for until early this summer.

The staff at HCN remembers Bill most vividly for a letter he wrote last
year, urging us to not forget those readers who love print more than
electrons.

"Last week, my wife and I made a donation to the HCN Research Fund in what
for us was a substantial amount, given the declining state of our retirement
account -- more than we'll give to many other nonprofit organizations
appealing for our help in this dark economic time. Would we have done so for
an online magazine of similar content? Would I faithfully renew
subscriptions for myself and three of our kids for a website publication?
I'm afraid the answer is no. If I couldn't read High Country News during
lunch at the cafe near my retirement office, or carry it in my briefcase to
pull out for a doctor's office wait, or mark and save articles for future
reference and sharing with my wife and friends -- I'd simply fall out of
touch. I don't say this as a threat, but as a fact -- and in serious concern
for a publication I value highly. ...  As you take HCN further into the era
of electronic communication, remember that the Web, fast and far-reaching as
it is, tends to be cluttered, transitory, and unappealing to page-turners
like me. Please keep one foot on the solid ground of print journalism -- at
least until I'm gone!"

Bill would be relieved to know we have no intention of abandoning print
journalism. Those who would like to remember Bill can make a donation to
Save the American River Association, California Trout, High Country News, or
the Effie Yeaw Nature Center (c/o The American River Natural History
Association).

 

 

Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 mobile

 <mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net

 <mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
(secondary)

 <http://fotr.org/> http://www.fotr.org 

 

 

 

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