George Beland is probably the Father of the Environmental Movement in Placer County. When the environment was little more than an afterthought in Placer County, he was forming a Wetlands Committee and trying to make the Auburn Ravine a center piece for the Auburn Community. He helped Janice Waddle Forbes daylight North Rich Ravine, the South Fork of Auburn Ravine, which resulted in Auburn School Park Preserve. His lasting contribution is the trail along Auburn Ravine from Auburn Ravine Road downstream to Grocery Outlet. His dream was and still is to daylight that parking lot with restaurants and boutiques streamside for the enhancement of the quality of life for the Auburn community. George was and is still a tireless environmentalist supporting PARC and being a charter and current member of SARSAS.
George Beland grew up in Vallejo and came to Auburn in 1955, with his lovely wife Joyce. George Beland was District 3 supervisor from 1988 to 1992 and Auburn mayor for two terms, 1982 and 1986. He said, “I was concerned about the environment, got a tree ordinance; went back to Washington, D.C. to lobby against the Auburn dam.” He was the first person in Placer County who actually addressed issues of enhancing the Auburn Ravine.
He appointed true environmentalists to the Wetlands Committee for Placer County and jumpstarted the Environmental Movement in Placer County and served as an inspiration for PARC and SARSAS.
George oversaw the creation of the walking trail along the Auburn Ravine from Auburn Ravine Road down to the Grocery Outlet Parking lot. He recalled his efforts in a 2008 AJ Article: “Completed in 1995, the trail provides a shortcut for walkers but former Auburn mayor and Placer County supervisor George Beland said he has noticed that work to preserve plantings of native foliage has been pretty much abandoned. There were plans farther up Auburn Ravine Road for more restoration work along the banks but the Auburn City Council was never very cooperative, Beland said. “It was like pulling teeth,” he said. “The native plants have to be watered the first three years and most are gone now but once the invasive plants like blackberries are taken out, it would still be an improvement.”
Beland said he still envisions the culvert that moves Auburn Ravine Creek under the Grocery Outlet shopping center parking lot being taken out and the stream daylighted. “They have a lot more parking than they need and it would be a good site for restaurants,” he said.
Beland points to Berkeley, where recent daylighting efforts have created an urban stream. ” The last thing I heard, more people were going to that park than anywhere else,” he said. “It can be done here. A combination of modern political will and the memories of what once was could provide the glue for a coalition to build a strong urban creek daylighting effort.” Even more important to Ashland, Oregon, than the world famous Shakespeare Festival is how the city has made Ashland Creek a central part of the lives of residents and visitors. The creek like Auburn Ravine flows through town center and has been make a part of the town’s life by the addition of children’s play areas, sitting area, animal sanctuaries and picnic areas. George wants that same kind or restoration of Auburn Ravine for its people.
“But the 4.3-acre site (where the Auburn Ravine Creek daylighting work can take place) is a good place to start.” Farther down Auburn Ravine, as it moves past the city of Auburn’s wastewater treatment plant, other issues have resulted in work to preserve water quality, control sedimentation, and implement restoration work.
SARSAS currently have salmon 22 miles up the 33 length of Auburn Ravine on their way to spawning in the two parks in Auburn, Ashford Park and Auburn Park Preserve, between Auburn City Hall and Placer High School.
Along with Janice Waddle Forbes who daylighted North Rich Ravine, the south Fork of Auburn Ravine,
George has done much to create interest and focus on Auburn Ravine.
George was and is an inspiration for founding SAVE AUBURN RAVINE SALMON AND STEELHEAD whose mission is to return salmon and steelhead to its entire thirty-three miles length with salmon spawning in Ashford Park and Auburn Ravine Park Preserve. Salmon are already up 22 of the 33 length of Auburn Ravine on their way to spawning in the two parks in Auburn, Ashford Park and Auburn Park Preserve, between Auburn City Hall and Placer High School.
George Beland has always been an environmental visionary and is a most deserving recipient of this award for his selfless devotion to making Placer County a more desirable place for us to live enriched lives.
Save Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead (SARSAS)
President and Founder
P.O. Box 4269
Auburn, CA 95604
OFFICIAL PLACER COUNTY COMMENDATION:
JULY 7, 2015 IN THE MATTER OF A COMMENDATION HONORING GEORGE BELAND FOR HIS CONTRIBUTION to placer county and the greater auburn area
WHEREAS, George Beland was raised in Vallejo and moved to Auburn in 1955 with his wife Joyce, serving two terms as the Mayor of the City of Auburn, in 1982 and in 1986, and serving on the Placer County Board of Supervisors from 1988 to 1992; and
WHEREAS, George became interested in preserving Placer County’s natural resources and beauty and worked to build momentum within the community to identify and protect streams, wetlands, and other natural areas, and he worked with other community members and local government agencies to create open spaces for people to use and enjoy; and
WHEREAS, he spearheaded movements that led to the creation of Save Auburn Ravine Steelhead and Salmon (SARSAS) and Protect the American River Canyon (PARC), and was instrumental in daylighting North Rich Ravine, which made way for the School Park Preserve in downtown Auburn, and worked tirelessly to create a walking path along Auburn Ravine in Auburn; and
WHEREAS, during his time as a County supervisor George Beland was instrumental in creating a Wetlands Committee and in advocating for the adoption of the Placer County Tree Preservation Ordinance, and he traveled to Washington D.C. to speak in support of protecting the American River Canyon; and
WHEREAS, those who have had the great opportunity to work alongside George Beland praise his kindness and determination in accomplishing conservation projects that make Placer County a better place to live, and consider him a visionary when it comes to natural resource and open space preservation.
NOW, THEREFORE, LET IT BE KNOWN THAT the Placer County Board of Supervisors acknowledges George Beland for his years of community service and his dedication to preserving precious natural resources and open spaces in Placer County.
Kirk Uhler, Supervisor District 4
Jack Duran, Supervisor District 1
Robert M. Weygandt, Supervisor District 2
Jim Holmes, Supervisor District 3
Jennifer Montgomery, Supervisor District 5