About Great Public Land Destinations

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We are all owners of our remarkable public lands. Enjoying them is one of the greatest joys of living in our local communities and our state, or visiting here.

Our public lands provide tremendous opportunities to explore our natural heritage, our history and ourselves. As importantly, they are places to have fun, get exercise, engage with others, relax, find peace, find excitement, reflect, play and also connect with our amazing environment.

This website is a starting point to discovering public lands within 300 miles of the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).

I am fortunate to teach the “America’s Public Lands – Law and Policy” class at UCSB. Before taking my class, many of my wonderful students had only been to a few public land areas. In part, this is because they did not know what was available and where to go. Also, newcomers to the area, visitors, and even people who have lived here for a while have often asked me, “What public lands do you recommend?” This inspired me to create a Great Public Lands Destination website.

All of the public land areas on this website are, as noted above, within 300 miles of UCSB, with an emphasis on closer locations. While 50 destinations are featured, I did “sneak in” many other wonderful places to visit at the end of some of the destination pages under the sub-section entitled: “Nearby Public Land Worth Visiting.”

This website is designed to serve as the identification and introduction points for public land adventures. Once a place of interest is found, each described destination has links that provide a lot more detailed information about the location, including directions on how to get there, maps (where available), and more.

On this website, there is a mix of every category of public land: national, state, county and city, as well as every type: national parks, state parks, county parks, city parks, open spaces, national forests, national monuments and more. My goal is to present a highlighted cross section of the amazing gifts our public lands have to offer to everyone, of every age, now and hopefully forever.

About The Author – Deborah Williams

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I grew up in Southern California, and was fortunate to spend a significant amount of time with my parents and friends exploring public lands throughout the country. Inspired by these experiences, I became involved in helping to protect the environment, and established the first Ecology Club at Birmingham High School in the Los Angeles School District and the initial Environmental Quality organization at Pomona College. Subsequently I was honored to be a co-founder of the Harvard Environmental Law Review.

After graduating from law school, I served as an Attorney for the National Park Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, as the Special Assistant to the Secretary of Interior for Alaska (a Presidential Appointment), as the Executive Director of the Alaska Conservation Foundation, and as the President of Alaska Conservation Solutions, among other positions. Also, I have authored numerous articles and been quoted widely on environmental issues in the local, national and international press, including 60 Minutes, the Washington Post, NPR, and the New York Times.

Throughout my adult life, I have continued to joyfully explore and enjoy public lands with many remarkable people, especially with my husband, Rance, and my son, Andrew. Currently I live in Goleta, California and teach “Public Lands – Law and Policy” in the Environmental Studies Department at UCSB. Concurrently, I am also a Commissioner on the Goleta Parks and Recreation Commission and a member of the Partnership Council with Community Environmental Council (CEC). For so many reasons, I deeply appreciate all of the extraordinary people throughout our country who work tirelessly to protect our public lands, and this website is dedicated to you.

Thank You's and Acknowledgements

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I want to sincerely thank:

My wonderful husband, Rance Wall, for all of his love, assistance and support, including taking many terrific photos on our Great Destination trips and retrieving them for this website, and for being my amazing backpacking and hiking partner for life.

My remarkable students, who provided photos and recommendations: Samuel Desre, Phoebe Rogers, Jason Mathias, and Whitner Grange.

My amazing friends who offered photos and suggestions, and sometimes served as models: Pamela Bergmann, Cathy Newman, Barbara Widmer, Becky Judd, Rachel Metz and Julie Maldonado.

My extraordinary son, Andrew Roy, for all of his inspiration every day, for the hundreds of wonderful miles we have hiked and backpacked together on public lands, and for his amazing abstract art that so often intensely reflects the colorful essence of our natural environment.

With respect to the photos that my husband and I took, most were taken before I conceived of this website, so there are more photos with one of us in it than ideal. As we revisit these destinations, we will be trading out the photos, and I look forward to more contributions from former students, friends and others. This is designed to be an ever-growing and improving website for all to enjoy.

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