The late Wallace Stegner is best known to the wider world for his writings and as a teacher of writers. But to local environmentalists, Stegner is remembered fondly as a founder of the open space movement here, and its most articulate voice.
The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District board voted last week to recognize Stegner by providing a rock bench and plaque in Stegner's name in its Long Ridge Open Space Preserve, near Highway 9 and Skyline Boulevard.
The selection of the site was made with the agreement of Mary Stegner, his widow.
"It's on land they used to own and sold to the district," said Malcolm Smith, spokesman for the district. "It was a favorite place of theirs."
Stegner died two years ago from injuries he suffered in an automobile accident.
He founded the creative writing program at Stanford in 1945, and taught there until 1971. He was the author of 16 volumes of fiction and 12 of essays, and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1972 for his novel "Angle of Repose."
Stegner was also a co-founder of the Committee for Green Foothills and "an inspiration" for the founding of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District in 1972, said Nonette Hanko of Palo Alto, a founding and current board member.
Hanko said an eight-foot stone bench will be set into the hillside on the site, along with the plaque, which will have an inscription from his writing.
"The site we picked was where Wally and Mary used to walk and look out to the ocean," Hanko said. "It's where a quite wooded trail opens up into a quite beautiful vista."
Hanko said the Stegners and some of their friends bought the property there before the district was formed, simply to preserve it from development. Once the district was formed, they sold the 390-acre parcel to the district "at a very good price," she said.
Hanko said the dedication of the site probably will be held next May.
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