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Inventory of the Peter H. Behr Papers, 1971-1978
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Behr (Peter H.) Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1971-1978
    Collection number: LP163:22-68
    Creator: Behr, Peter H.
    Extent: 2.5 cubic ft.
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Abstract: Peter H. Behr, Republican, was a California State Senator, 1971-1978. He authored the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1972 and helped to establish roll call votes in all legislative committees. Behr was named Conservation Legislator of the Year in 1972.
    Physical location: California State Archives
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the California State Archives. Permission for reproduction or publication is given on behalf of the California State Archives as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement which may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives collections.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Peter H. Behr papers, LP163:[folder number], California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

    Acquisition Information

    The California State Archives acquired the Peter H. Behr Papers following his final term in the California State Legislature.


    Peter H. Behr, Republican, was a California State Senator, 1971-1978. His 4th Senate District included cities within Marin, Napa, and Solano Counties. After 1974 redistricting, he represented the 2nd Senate District including Marin, western Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt, and Del Norte Counties.
    Behr was born on May 24, 1915 in New York City. He attended Lawrenceville Prep School in New Jersey, graduated from Yale University, and received his law degree from Yale Law School. During World War II he was in the U.S. Navy for five years of active duty, 1941-1946, leaving as a Lieutenant Commander. In 1942 he married Sally Clarkson with whom he had three children: Lola, Peter Jr., and Trudy. He and his family moved to California in 1947 where he began his legal career with the San Francisco law firm of Brobeck, Pfleger & Harrison. Later he founded his own firm, Behr, Kerner, Coangelo & Imlay but left it in 1968 to pursue his political interests.
    Before he became a Senator, Behr was a Mill Valley Planning Commissioner, a Mill Valley City Councilman, and a Marin County Supervisor. He was the Marin Chair, Save San Francisco Bay Association; Chair, Save Our Seashore--Pt. Reyes campaign (through which he is credited with convincing Congress to buy much of the land for the Point Reyes National Seashore); and Vice President, Marin Symphony Guild. He was also instrumental in obtaining open-area zoning of all publicly-owned lands in Marin County.
    Peter Behr was elected to the State Senate in 1970. His Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, 1972 (protecting some Northern California rivers from further damming or diversion) and the establishment of roll call votes in all legislative committees are among his accomplishments. Because of his work he was named Conservation Legislator of the Year, 1972 and was twice named "Marin's Outstanding Conservationist."
    According to the California Legislature at Sacramento (Handbooks), Behr served on the following committees:

    California State Senate, 1971-1978

    • Standing Committees
    • Education, 1973-1978
    • Finance, 1975-1978
    • Health and Welfare, 1971-1974
    • Insurance and Financial Institutions, 1975-1978
    • * Chair, 1975-1978
    • Local Government, 1971-1972
    • Natural Resources and Wildlife, 1972-1978
    • Public Utilities and Corporations, 1971-1974
    • * Vice Chair, 1971-1974
    • Water Resources, 1971
    • Joint Committees
    • Aging, 1972
    • School Finance, 1972
    • Open Space Lands, 1972
    In addition, as a member of the Legislature, Behr served as Senate Representative on the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC).
    After retiring from the Legislature in 1978, Behr continued to work in environmental circles. He was a Sierra Club Trustee, served twice as president of the Marin Conservation League, and served as board member of Friends of the River and the statewide Planning and Conservation League. Mr. Behr helped form the Tomales Bay Advisory Committee to monitor and reduce degradation of the bay. He also taught at UC Berkeley's School of Public Policy.
    Peter Behr died March 10, 1997 at the age of 81.

    Scope and Content

    The Peter H. Behr Papers consist of Senate Bill Files, 1971-1978. The bill files document Senator Behr's legislative activity during his time as a member of the California State Legislature. Bills introduced by him cover a wide array of subjects. His main areas of interest were environmental protection and legislative reform.


    Bill files arranged chronologically by legislative session and alphabetically and numerically by bill number.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been associated with these materials in the Archives' automated public access system (currently in development, June 2004).


    Behr, Peter H.
    Landscape protection--California

    Related Material

    Peter H. Behr, Oral History Interview, conducted 1988 by Ann Lage for the Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, for the California State Government Oral History Program.
    Saving Point Reyes National Seashore, 1969-1970: An Oral History of Citizen Action in Conservation, Oral History Interviews with Margaret Azevedo, Peter Behr, John D. Ehrlichman, Katy Miller Johnson, William L. Kahrl, Paul N. "Pete" McCloskey, Jr., Boyd Stewart, with an introduction by William J. Duddleson, interviews conducted 1990-1991 by Ann Lage and William J. Duddleson for the Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. (Not available at the California State Archives.)