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Guardian of Mount Tamalpais


Change The world

The Tamalpais Conservation Club (TCC) was founded in 1912 to preserve and protect the natural features in Marin County – and Mt. Tamalpais in particular. As the oldest conservation organization in Marin, it is still actively carrying on this important mission.



From 1890, when the little community of Mill Valley and its railroad spur were established at the southerly base of Mount Tamalpais, people flocked to the mountain to partake in the pleasures of vigorous hiking on its many trails. Most hikers came by ferry from San Francisco and Oakland. Hiking clubs were formed, and the members would sit together and sing hiking songs as they crossed the Bay. Many did day hikes while others camped overnight on the mountain. At the time farmers were using the lower slopes for grazing dairy cattle, and hikers had a tendency to leave gates open which allowed cattle to wander off. Campsites and picnic spots became littered with trash, and deer were shot and dressed near trails. Since all of the lands on Mt. Tam were privately owned, many hikers became concerned that landowners would deny them access to the trails unless these increasing conflicts were resolved. In 1912, a group of hikers got together to solve the problem and founded the Tamalpais Conservation Club (TCC). All hikers were invited to join. The new club was an immediate success, and by the end of its first year it had 1,300 enthusiastic members including Alice Eastwood, Ernest J. Mott and Gifford Pinchot. The members considered themselves to be "Guardians of the Mountain." The TCC Board of Directors included representatives from other hiking clubs, making it an effective coordinating body that worked to preserve Mt. Tam as a hiking and recreation resource for everyone.


In the late 1920's residential developers began building on the southerly slopes of Mt.Tam. The TCC successfully met this challenge by starting a campaign that led to the creation of the Mt. Tamalpais State Park in 1930. The State Park, however, controlled only a small portion of the mountain. Shortly after WW II, developers made another assault on the mountain by building new streets and homes up its slopes. Again the Club, together with other organizations, rose to the challenge by helping secure funds to purchase additional land that resulted in a larger State Park__ much as we know it today. In the 1980's we were instrumental in causing the abandoned Air Force base on the Middle Peak to be torn down. In the 1990'swe assisted in the purchase of 42 acres on Warner Ridge. In 2003, we helped the Mill Valley Open Space Committee purchase key lots on the lower southern slopes of Mt. Tam behind Mill Valley to preserve them from development. In 2004, through a legal challenge we successfully persuaded the State Dept. of Parks & Recreation to reconsider its plan for fire road conversion, resulting in the development of the new Coastal Multi use Trail.

" With these hills and the friends I love . . .
I ask no other heaven"
- R.F Dad O Rourke, Charter Member,


Through out the years, four regulatory agencies have been created to protect the open space on and surrounding Mt. Tam. Mt. Tamalpais State Park (MTSP) greatly expanded its responsibility for the affairs of the mountain, including trail maintenance. In addition the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD), which controls a much larger portion of the mountain than the State Park, established guidelines for land use while keeping in mind its primary goal of providing safe drinking water. The Marin Headlands came under the jurisdiction of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). The Marin County Open Space District (MCOSD) acquired lands surrounding Mt. Tam for public use. The TCC prides itself on a close relationship with all four of these public bodies.


For nearly one hundred years, the TCC has worked to accomplish its goal by helping to acquire open space, by working closely with the regulatory agencies to develop wise land use policies, and by regularly scheduled monthly trail maintenance days. The TCC provides financial support and volunteer manpower to MTSP and MMWD to build and repair the many trails, campsites, bridges, and trail signs. All members are encouraged to join our regularly scheduled monthly trail maintenance days. Mt. Tamalpais represents one of the finest protected areas in the world, but with every generation it faces new assaults. Our role as Guardian of the Mountain is more important and diverse than ever. We invite you to join and become part of our proud ongoing heritage of conservation and protection. for the benefit of future generations.

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Thanks for your heart ♥.

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