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Finding Aid to the Contra Costa Park Council records, 1951-1986
BANC MSS 82/37 c  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Contra Costa Park Council records
    Date (inclusive): 1951-1986
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 82/37 c
    Creator: Contra Costa Park Council
    Extent: 5 cartons, 1 oversize folder (6.25 linear feet)
    Repository: The Bancroft Library.
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Abstract: Records of the Contra Costa Park Council, a citizens’ group formed in 1951 to promote active use of park land and preserve open space in Contra Costa County as well as around the Bay Area. The collection documents the Council’s collaboration with conservation organizations, planning officials, and lawmakers at the city, county, and state level.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English.
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720-6000. Consent is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html. 
    Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Contra Costa Park Council records, BANC MSS 82/37 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Alternate Forms Available

    There are no alternate forms of this collection.

    Related Material

    Related collection: Florence Klinger papers (BANC MSS 82/105 c).

    Separated Material

    Photographs transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library (BANC PIC 1982.033--PIC).

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog:
    Contra Costa Park Council -- Archives
    Conservation of natural resources -- California -- Contra Costa County
    Land use -- California -- Contra Costa County -- Planning
    Open spaces -- California -- Contra Costa County -- Planning
    Open spaces -- California -- East Bay -- Planning
    Parks -- California -- Contra Costa County
    Parks -- California -- Contra Costa County -- Planning
    Parks -- California -- East Bay
    Parks -- California -- East Bay -- Planning
    Regional planning -- California -- Contra Costa County
    Regional planning -- California -- East Bay
    East Bay Regional Park District (Calif.)
    East Bay Regional Park District (Calif.) -- Planning

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Contra Costa Park Council records were given to the Bancroft Library by Susan Watson and Mary Burton in 1981 and 2004.


    No additions are expected.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Maria Gould in 2012.

    Biographical Information

    The Contra Costa Park Council (formerly the Contra Costa Park and Recreation Council) was established in 1951 as a citizens’ group devoted to addressing the creation and preservation of recreation areas in the county. At the time of the Council’s founding, the county was estimated to be home to only one square mile of public park land. Parks, in fact, were not a county responsibility. The Council’s initial activities included recruiting members and launching public information campaigns with the aim of convincing the county government to assume this responsibility: these efforts resulted in county officials’ decision to sanction a park system that would be governed by a county Park Commission (later the Contra Costa Recreation and Natural Resources Commission). In 1964, the Council successfully pushed forward an initiative to annex the county’s parks system to the East Bay Regional Park District, which would help to give the county’s parks a stable funding source and more secure future.
    At this time, the Council began taking action on park and recreation initiatives that extended beyond the county, advocating for a comprehensive platform of regional land conservation. These initiatives were shaped by the increasing urbanization and suburbanization of the Bay Area, which threatened to encroach upon the areas the Council had fought to preserve. In these efforts, the Council aligned with other established or newly-formed conservation and planning groups (Sierra Club, People for Open Space, Association of Bay Area Governments). Together, they collected data, carried out surveys, and lobbied local and state lawmakers to preserve the region’s existing parks network and to create new areas as well. Chief among these participants were Susan Watson and Alvin Burton, who at different times each served as President of the Council. Both active within the Council and within the planning community at large for several decades, Watson and Burton were at the forefront of a dedicated citizen movement to redefine questions of land use and wilderness in a rapidly changing urban landscape. Nearly thirty years after its creation, the Council began to reexamine its purpose and in 1980 determined that, having accomplished its intended goals, it was time to cede its work to other groups: the Council’s legal status was shifted to the auspices of the nascent Contra Costa Corridor Parks Committee, and the organization’s remaining assets were transferred to sister group Save Mount Diablo, which had emerged during the struggle over commercial development on the mountain’s north peak. The East Bay Regional Park District would continue to serve as steward of Contra Costa County’s parks.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection consists of administrative records specific to the operations of the Contra Costa Park Council as well as documents pertaining to planning efforts and parks projects led by other local groups and organizations, often carried out with the Council’s collaboration. Spanning over three decades of activity, from 1951 to 1986, the records offer glimpses of significant changes taking place in the Bay Area during this time, from the development of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system to the expansion of the multi-county East Bay Regional Park District. Meeting minutes, policy resolutions, and master plans indicate the breadth of planning activity that took place and underscore the delicate balance—and conflicting priorities—between maximizing the natural advantages of the Bay Area and accommodating the region’s rapid growth. Two important debates over open space in the 1970s are covered in extensive detail: the disputed north peak of Mount Diablo and the freeway extension known as the “Gateway” proposal. These debates are accessible through environmental impact reports, legislative memos, meeting notes, maps, and clippings.