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Jared H.
Democrat CA 2

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  • Honoring Bill Kortum

    by Representative Jared Huffman

    Posted on 2015-01-22

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    HUFFMAN of california in the house of representatives Thursday, January 22, 2015 Mr. HUFFMAN. Mr. Speaker, we rise today in honor of William (Bill) Kortum, who passed away on December 20, 2014, following a battle with cancer. As a pioneering conservationist, Mr. Kortum championed many successful campaigns and brought lasting environmental protections to Sonoma County and the State of California, and his passing leaves a void that won't soon be filled. Considered by many to be the father of the environmental movement in Sonoma County, Mr. Kortum was known for his strength of conviction and tenacity for protecting the environment. Always kind, always polite, Mr. Kortum knew how to motivate others towards positive change, and he is singularly responsible for instituting many lasting environmental protections, though he would never claim responsibility for them.

    As a native of Petaluma, California, Bill Kortum grew up on his father's poultry ranch at a time when Sonoma County's open spaces were unmarred by urban development. Mr. Kortum went on to graduate from the University of California at Davis Veterinary School, serve his country in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, and establish the successful Cotati Veterinary Hospital.

    By the early 1960's, Bill Kortum saw how a rapidly growing population would increasingly threaten the natural landscape of Sonoma County. He and his wife, Lucy, opposed unregulated development and fought to pioneer an alternative path. One of the first of many significant environmental victories that Bill Kortum and his allies achieved in Sonoma County was to prevent the planned development of PG&E's nuclear power plant at Bodega Head.

    In 1972, Mr. Kortum fought to pass Proposition 20, a measure that established the California Coastal Commission, which continues to guarantee public access to the California coastline. As a visionary leader, he went on to establish Sonoma County Conservation Action, an organization that mobilized voters to secure urban growth limits around all nine cities in the county. He helped to create the Sonoma County Open Space District and championed other key institutions and causes, such as the Sonoma Land Trust, the SMART train, and public access to Lafferty Ranch.

    Mr. Speaker, Bill Kortum's many accomplishments and dedication to preserving our nation's natural resources for future generations illustrates the substantial impact that one individual can have on making the world a better place. Mr. Kortum will not soon be forgotten, and his legacy in Sonoma County and along California's rugged coast will continue for years to come. It is therefore appropriate that we pay tribute to him today and express our deepest condolences to his wife, Lucy; children, Frank, Julie Groves, and Sam; grandchildren, Mark Kortum, Holden and Dylan Groves, Will and Grace Kortum; and many nieces and nephews.


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