BEC at 40

Happy anniversary to the Butte Environmental Council

Congratulations to the Butte Environmental Council, which last Saturday, Oct. 24, celebrated its 40th anniversary with a sold-out gala at the Sierra Nevada Big Room.

As several speakers noted, it’s rare for a local nonprofit to survive that long, especially one that passionately advocates for protecting nature and the environment. But BEC now has more than 900 members and has become a respected educational and advocacy group.

Begun in 1975 as a collective of five environmental groups that came together to streamline and coordinate their work, BEC quickly asserted itself. One of its first accomplishments was its successful advocacy for creation of the Ishi Wilderness Area encompassing Mill and Deer creeks.

Perhaps best known for its sponsorship of the annual Endangered Species Faire, which it started in 1979, BEC has been a leader in educational programs such as Recycling and Rubbish Education (RARE), which visits county schools to teach about the importance of not wasting resources.

The group also sponsors hands-on programs such as the annual Bidwell Park and Chico Creeks Cleanup and an Oak Restoration Program that plants and tends young oaks in Upper Bidwell Park. It also oversees two large and bounteous community gardens, one on Humboldt Road at El Monte, the other at the corner of Oak Way and Highway 32.

Perhaps BEC’s most important function, however, is advocacy. It has never been afraid to take a stand on a controversial issue, whether it’s an environmentally harmful development project, threats to local water or Chico’s Greenline, or violations of the city or county general plan. It is our most important environmental watchdog. Even those who don’t always agree with BEC must acknowledge that Butte County is a better place because of its work.

For a more inclusive look at BEC’s many programs, go to