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March 14, 2006 > The Tri-City Ecology Center

The Tri-City Ecology Center

The first Earth Day, held in 1970, brought a new era of concern for our environment. Donna Olsen sent out a list of things that people could do to help, and a group of AAUW (American Association of University Women) members decided to explore local interest. They advertised in papers, set up a post office box and called a public meeting for January 27, 1971.

A standing room only crowd of over 300 people showed up at the Community Center. Dr Holger Rasmussen, temporary chairman, worked to organize the people into study groups, channel their enthusiasm and form a steering committee. Committee members were Neil Evans, Miriam Alward, Peter Anders, Dr. William Barbee, Kay Hoffman, Katherine James, Spencer Lewis, Melody Matthews, Loretta Rapp, Karen Rasmussen, Marlys Ruby, Pat Simmons, Scott Simmons, Carl Strandberg, Laura Sunderland, Margie Hussey and Mercy Williams.

Bill Hurd replaced Dr. Rasmussen as chairman of the board in May. Other board members were Mary Guglielmo, Donna Olsen, Phil Holmes, Karen Findley, Jim Goodwin, Joe Hamilton, Jill Ballard, and Jan Guthrie. By March "The Tri-City Ecology Recycling Center" was operating at the corner of Grimmer and Blacow, and the first issue of the Eco-Logic was published.

The Board's interests have been many and varied through the years. Over $1000 worth of books and videos have been donated each year to local libraries through the book donation program. The Center joined the public transit campaign for Fremont and Newark in 1973, helped with the water conservation program, a sewage treatment improvement effort in 1976 and launched an oil recycling program in 1977.

The 1980's and 90's the organization focused on open space preservation with a hillside development plan approved by voters in November 1981 and pushed for a Household Hazardous Material Disposal program in 1985. The Center became an active partner with the Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge and helped add the Warm Springs Seasonal Wetlands Unit in Fremont and Mayhews Landing in Newark to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in 1985.

Joining with the Ohlone Humane Society in 1990, the Center helped to protect the burrowing owl. Working with the Coalition for Open Space and Trails in 1992, it helped to preserve the open space below Mission Peak. After a long struggle, the Center saved 53 poplar trees near Lake Elizabeth in 1994 and along with other groups and agencies helped to establish a 400-acre "Preserve," on the Catellus site in South Fremont.

The drop-off recycling center, where volunteers accepted and sorted bottles, cans and newspapers, was the organization's best known activity. Over 13,000,000 pounds of material were recycled over a period of 18-1/2 years. With the advent of curbside recycling, the Center closed in 1989, and the organization was forced to resort to income from memberships, donations, grants and fund raisers to replace that formerly provided by recycling.

Tri-City Ecology Center never really had an official office home through all those years and their projects were completed by a host of volunteers. In 1994 that changed when the organization moved into the Fremont Community Activities Center at 3375 Country Drive. Board meetings, special gatherings, fund raisers and work parties are now held there, and the resource center is open to the public.

One of the Center's unique projects is at the Local History Museum which was developed in 1996. Many volunteers work to maintain the garden and educate the public about using native plants.

The Center is proud to work with a variety of groups including the Ohlone Humane Society, Ohlone Audubon Society, Friends of Heirloom Flowers, League of Women Voters, Math &Science Nucleus, Urban Ecology, South County Group of the Sierra Club, Alameda Creek Alliance, and Citizen's Committee to Complete the Refuge.

To fulfill its environmental education mission, the Tri-City Ecology Center maintains an office and resource center at 3375 Country Drive in Fremont, publishes the Eco-Logic newsletter, keeps an updated web site, donates books every year, presents programs and units to schools and networks with other groups to coordinate environmental education efforts.

Currently, the ecology center is working on a tree-planting project at Quarry Lakes Regional Park with the Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Church, Patterson Ranch open spaces issues and a renewal of the Earth Day celebration at Central Park. The Earth Day Family Fair is co-sponsored with the City of Fremont and will take place on April 22 at the Teen Center. And so the cycle of activities continues.

 
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