A bearded white haired person from the shoulders up with mountains out of focus in the background.

Mono Lake advocate Martin Litton passes away at age 97

1935 letter to L.A. Times
1935 letter to LA Times

Environmental activist, Colorado River guide, World War II pilot, former Sierra Club board member, and former Sunset Magazine travel editor Martin Litton passed away on Sunday at the age of 97. He was an outspoken and uncompromising advocate for protecting wild places, including Mono Lake. At the age of 18, he wrote a letter to the editor that was published in the Los Angeles Times on October 27, 1935:

To Save Mono Lake

     INGLEWOOD, Oct 21.—[To the Editor of The Times:] For the disappearance of Owens Lake there is some excuse. Los Angeles really needed the water. But when our City of the Angels will wantonly dry up beautiful, mysterious Mono Lake to selfishly add a few unnecessary gallons to an already adequate supply, things are going a little too far. The people of the Owens Valley region are already deeply resentful toward the great city which has made their once fertile and productive land into a barren desert waste. The people of the entire State should rise up against the destruction of Mono Lake. Mono Lake is a gem—among California’s greatest scenic attractions—a beautiful and historic landmark which must not be destroyed.


Martin Litton, president of Sequoia Forestkeeper, talking with Mono Lake Committee Board Member Andrea Lawrence and the Committee’s then-Office Director Erika Obedzinski, at the 2008 Sierra Nevada Alliance Conference in King’s Beach. Andrea passed away six months after this photo was taken, and Martin passed away this past Sunday. They both were a large part of many environmental victories during their inspirational and achievement-filled lives. Photo by Greg Reis.

Top photo courtesy of Outside Online.