Celebrating a life in service to nature — Martin “Marty” Griffin, 1920–2024

Celebrating a life in service to nature — Martin “Marty” Griffin, 1920–2024

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Celebrating a life in service to nature and all that it supports.

Dr. L. Martin “Marty” Griffin
July 23, 1920 – May 22, 2024

This is a proud legacy to leave for future generations—and one that we should protect vigilantly at all costs.

~ L. Martin (Marty) Griffin, M.D.

Audubon Canyon Ranch Founder Marty Griffin wrote the above words in his book Saving the Marin-Sonoma Coast, where he tells the dramatic story of local conservationists—including himself—whose passion and daring succeeded in defending wildlife habitats, defeating runaway growth and opening the door to a new environmental ethic…forever protecting wild landscapes and transforming the political landscape of Marin and Sonoma counties.
Marty, who died on May 22, 2024 at the age of 103, continues to inspire us every day.

Marty lights the test ignition for a 2019 prescribed burn at Martin Griffin Preserve, telling the crew, “I’ve been waiting for this moment for seventy years!”

Saving wildlands in the North Bay and beyond

A conservationist since the 1950s, Marty was instrumental in the creation of Audubon Canyon Ranch, prevention of a coastal freeway and aqueduct, and the preservation of sanctuaries on Bolinas Lagoon, Tomales Bay, Sonoma Creek and Point Reyes. Thanks to the efforts of Marty and like-minded conservationists, the coastline of Marin County was rescued from commercial development and held in permanent trust for the public.

Marty’s preservation work extended beyond the coastal wildlands. He was a co-founder of The Environmental Forum of Marin, established a wildlife preserve in Haleakala National Park, participated in wildlife work in Nepal and was elected a director of the Marin Municipal Water District. In 1990, Marty founded the Russian River Task Force, the Russian River Environmental Forum and Friends of the Russian River, which became Russian RiverKeeper.

A recent article by the National Park Service reminds us of the broad impact of his life work…at Audubon Canyon Ranch and beyond.

Joyce and Marty Griffin

A dedicated conservationist and physician

Marty’s love of the outdoors started at a young age and grew as he did. Reading his letter to family after hiking the John Muir Trail in 1938 gives us insight into the young man who would later dedicate his life to protecting the landscapes he loves.

In addition to his career as a preservationist in the United States and abroad, Marty was a distinguished physician and public health innovator. He served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during World War II, helped establish the Ross Valley Clinic, Ross General Hospital, Kentfield Psychiatric Hospital and the Tamalpais Retirement Center. He served as the Chief of Medicine at Marin General and Ross hospitals and well as Public Health Officer at the Sonoma Development Center.

In 1989, he was honored by the State of California for his esteemed career in public health.

Saving the Marin Sonoma Coast: Available for Download

The documentary Rebels with a Cause details the battles by local conservationists to stop planned development along the Marin County coastline.

Visit Marty’s website to read more about his lifetime of accomplishments and download chapters of his book, Saving the Marin-Sonoma Coast.

Marty Griffin and Audubon Canyon Ranch: A video about an unwavering conservationist

Watch this inspiring mini-documentary about Marty’s quest to protect the landscape he loves—and inspire others to join him. Starting with the then-polluted Bolinas Lagoon, Marty tells the story of saving the lagoon, forming Audubon Canyon Ranch, and continuing his conservation battles up the coast to Tomales Bay.