Center for Environmental Reporting

Rebels With A Cause (working title)
Saving the Marin County Coast

An hour long documentary by Nancy Kelly and Kenji Yamamoto
Executive Produced by KRCB Public Television


In the 1950s, the vision for the Marin County coast was all too familiar: the rural area would become an extension of San Francisco, resembling Menlo Park or Malibu; hundreds of thousands of people would reside in suburban housing developments between Bolinas and Tomales Bay; an eight lane freeway would connect the Richmond Bridge with Point Reyes Station; rural Highway One would become a multi-lane freeway; and harbors, marinas, and hotels would cover Bolinas Lagoon, Limantaur Estero and Tomales Bay. At the time most people assumed agriculture in the region was dead and the county’s dairymen and ranchers would become rich selling their land to real estate developers and move their operations elsewhere. Urbanization seemed unavoidable, especially for a rural area so close to a burgeoning city like San Francisco. That this did not come to pass is the compelling and epic story of Rebels With A Cause.


Rebels With A Cause portrays the ordinary citizens who did extraordinary things to save what are now the Point Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area from development, creating an 80 mile-long park that supports open space, recreation, agriculture and wildlife. This dramatic story weaves together themes of conservation, ecology, development, finance, politics and sustainability. Rebels With A Cause is about the crucial moments that any campaign for change must reach to accomplish its goals. It illustrates how people with vastly different ideas can create something coherent and illuminates how an accumulation of individual visions can become a profound, connected success. Rebels With A Causehas the potential to inspire audiences around the world to take action, form alliances, and persist to make the world a better place.

In Rebels With A Cause we meet the bold, dauntless, forward-thinking conservationists who assembled a series of land acquisitions into an increasingly large block of parkland and, in doing so, thwarted local, state and federal government plans to turn the Northern California coastline into a Los Angeles-style suburb.

Rebels With A Cause re-lives the creation of the Point Reyes National Seashore, in which recreation and preservation of agriculture have been woven together into the preservation of a unique, eighty-mile long stretch of undeveloped coastline. The original plan for Point Reyes envisioned a "Jones Beach on the Pacific" – a cliff-top parkway would have passed within yards of a seal rookery, Limantour Estero would have been engineered for motor boating. Even dune buggies were provided for. Before any of these plans could be implemented, the public made it clear that it wanted Point Reyes treated as wilderness. Although it was a controversial idea in the beginning, many farms and ranches were made part of the park, enabling family-based agriculture to continue in an urban area

The result of the tireless work of many citizens is that close to San Francisco – one of the world’s great cities – are beaches, mountains, forests, islands and wildlife. Rebels With A Cause emphasizes the importance of citizen action in the preservation of cultural and natural heritage.

Rebels With A Cause also highlights the history and the role of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust in helping agriculture continue in West Marin and the ways in which agriculture, recreation and conservation dovetailed into a model of sustainable agriculture.

Photography ©Kelly+Yamamoto Productions. Photo: Lou Weinert



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