Lennie Roberts

2019 San Mateo County History Maker

Lennie Roberts has been an environmental advocate in San Mateo County for over 50 years. In 1968, she joined the Board of the Committee for Green Foothills, and since becoming the Committee’s Legislative Advocate for San Mateo County in 1978, she has helped to make it one of the most effective environmental organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1972, she helped found the incredibly successful Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District and led its expansion to San Mateo County in 1976 and to the coast in 2009. In 1986, she was an author and co-sponsor of Measure A, the significant Coastside Protection Initiative that protects the rural farmlands and open space of the San Mateo County coast.

In 1996, Lennie authored and co-sponsored the Devil’s Slide Tunnel Initiative (Measure T), that mandated Caltrans to construct a tunnel at Devil’s Slide instead of a freeway bypass. She was instrumental in the successful passage of Measure T, and in March 2013, construction of the new tunnel was completed. The following spring, the old highway along the cliffs of Devil’s Slide was opened as a multi-use non-motorized trail.

As Chair of the Yosemite Natural History Association’s Board of Trustees, she was one of the founders of the Yosemite Fund in 1988; these two organizations united as Yosemite Conservancy which has raised over $100 million to support research, education, and habitat restoration in
Yosemite National Park.

In 2016, Lennie was recognized by the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club as that year’s “Environmental Hero,” citing her decades of dedicated effort to preserve “hills, open spaces and wild habitats in San Mateo County.” In 2019, she was recognized as Bay Nature Magazine’s “Citizens Hero” for protecting open space in San Mateo County.