Save Mount Diablo cofounder dies

July 20, 2012

The co-founder of the influential nonprofit conservation group Save Mount Diablo,  Arthur D. Bonwell, died at 85 at his home in Concord, California.

The trained electrical engineer for Dupont made a second career in conservation, recognizing that the state was doing little to protect the lands in and around Mount Diablo. In 1971, he co-founded Save Mount Diablo with botanist Mary Bowerman, whom he had met through his active participation with the local chapter of the Sierra Club. The organization helped enlarge what had been a small state park of 6,788 acres to the more than forty parks and preserves totaling 110,000 acres of protected land on and around the mountain today.

“I didn’t think Mount Diablo was getting enough attention,” said Bonwell, according to the family’s obituary.

For his work, Bonwell received numerous awards including a State of California Golden Bear Award, the 1996 Chevron Times-Mirror Magazine National Conservation Award, in 1999 Save Mount Diablo’s first Mountain Star Award, and in 2000 DiabloMagazine’s Threads of Hope Award for Lifetime Achievement.

The Indiana native is survived by his sister, Jane Bonwell, of Indianapolis. Save Mount Diablo lives on.


“Helping to create Save Mount Diablo and arousing public and legislative support for the mountain has been the most important work in my life– I feel that I have contributed to the world.  Much of Mount Diablo has been purchased as public open space; preservation of Mitchell, Donner and Back Canyons on the mountain’s north side, for example, were singular achievements because they’re so accessible, so well loved by the public and so important to the mountain.”

–          Arthur Bonwell, Co-Founder–Save Mount Diablo, 1971

About the Author

Alison Hawkes was a Bay Nature editor from 2011-2017. Before Bay Nature she worked in journalism for more than a decade as a former newspaper reporter turned radio producer turned web editor with each rendition bringing her closer to her dream of covering environmental issues. She co-founded Way Out West, a site dedicated to covering Bay Area environmental news.

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