By Nancy & Leonard Becker
Attorney Charles Miller was the unifying advisor who guided two groups towards the protection of two mountains located in California: Mount Shasta and San Bruno Mountain. We met Charles shortly after founding Sacred Sites International in 1990 when he was working for an environmental law firm in San Francisco. He asked Sacred Sites International to be an official “Interested Party” as Mount Shasta applied for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. The sacred Panther Meadows and spring were threatened by a ski development and the sacred spring is still used by Winnemem Wintu for sacred ceremonies.
We worked with a coalition of Native Americans and members of the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center, spearheaded by Michelle Berditschevsky. In 1994, Mount Shasta was designated by the National Historic Register as a Traditional Cultural District, thus strengthening the legal protection of 130-square-miles of Mount Shasta. This was later extended in 1999 and expanded in 2005, to protect the sacred landscape at Medicine Lake Highlands.
Charles Miller also invited Sacred Sites International to work with him in another coalition for protecting San Bruno Mountain. Sacred Sites International commented on Environmental reviews and launched Letter-Writing Campaigns to key decision-makers.
Miller initially worked with David Schooley the founder of San Bruno Mountain Watch who was seeking to protect the mountain from encroachments from proposed housing developments. A number of unique endangered species had been discovered on the mountain: the Mission Blue, San Bruno Elfin and the Callippe Silverspot butterflies and as well as a number of rare and endangered plants like the Silver Bush Lupine which is the preferred plant for the Mission Blue Butterfly.
Patrick Orozco of the Pajaro Valley Ohlone Council of California Indians was instrumental in the protection of San Bruno Mountain as he represented the Ohlone descendant community in preserving what is one of the largest and oldest undisturbed Ohlone shellmound and burial sites left in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Mount San Bruno Mountain was designated a State and County Park to protect its unique habitat of plants, butterflies and cultural resources.