In 1930, UC Berkeley botany student Mary Bowerman accepted a professor’s assignment to identify all the flowers on Mount Diablo. “Little did I know 65 years ago that my senior project would become my life’s work,” explained Bowerman, who died at her Lafayette home on August 21 at the age of 97. The senior project became a doctoral dissertation, under the guidance of renowned California botanist Willis Linn Jepson, and was finally published in 1944 as The Flowering Plants and Ferns of Mount Diablo, California. This authoritative classic was updated in 2002 by Bowerman and Barbara Ertter of UC Berkeley’s Jepson Herbarium. Bowerman was not only a pioneer in the natural history of Mount Diablo; she was also a leading figure for several decades in efforts to protect the mountain and its surrounding wildlands from development. In 1971 she and fellow Sierra Club member Art Bonwell cofounded Save Mount Diablo, which has become one of the Bay Area’s most effective land preservation groups. At the time, the state park covered 6,788 acres; by 2005 the park had tripled in size to 20,000 acres, with an additional 66,000 acres protected in the surrounding hills and canyons. She was also a member of the Mount Diablo Interpretive Associaton (MDIA). A “Celebration of Life” event in Bowerman’s honor will be held in Mitchell Canyon, at Mount Diablo State Park, on October 9 at 2 p.m. For information, go to www.savemountdiablo.org.
Bay Nature magazine ◦ October-December 2005