Who is L. Martin Griffin?
Loyal Martin Griffin, Jr., MD, MPH, was born in Ogden, Utah, in 1920. His parents had a mountain cabin on the banks of the Ogden River. He has a memory from age three of smells and sounds: the scent of sage, willows, and trout, the noise of the river over which floated, almost too idyllically, the music of his father’s mandolin.
During the Depression the family moved around the west, living in Portland and Los Angeles and finally Oakland. Griffin remembers Southern California as “still a beautiful Mediterranean paradise.”
In Oakland, California, he became an Eagle Scout and attended Oakland Technical High School. He graduated from the University of California in Berkeley in 1942 with a degree in zoology. After working in the Richmond shipyards on night shifts, he made enough money to enroll at Stanford Medical School, where he received his medical degree in 1946. He served as a captain in the US Army Medical Corps at the end of World War II.
Dr. Griffin interned at Stanford Hospital in San Francisco, and practiced in Marin County for seventeen years. There he helped start the Ross Valley Clinic, Ross General Hospital, Kentfield Psychiatric Hospital, and The Tamalpais retirement center. He served as chief of medicine at both Marin General and Ross Hospitals, and was certified as a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine in 1953.
In 1961, under Griffin’s leadership, Audubon Canyon Ranch was created and grew in 50 years to include 5,000 acres of wildlife sanctuaries on the watersheds of Bolinas Lagoon, the San Francisco Bay, Tomales Bay, and Sonoma Creek, and the Russian and Eel Rivers. In July, 2010 the ACR Board of Directors formally renamed the 1,000-acre preserve on Bolinas Lagoon the Martin Griffin Preserve in honor of L. Martin “Marty” Griffin’s lifelong commitment to the environment. Griffin was instrumental in ranch purchases of key parcels which prevented the construction of a four-lane freeway and helped protect the wild watersheds surrounding the Point Reyes National Seashore from development. Griffin was a cofounder of the Environmental Forum of Marin and also helped establish a 20,000-acre wildlife preserve as part of the Haleakala National Park in Kipahulu, Maui.
In 1973 he was elected a director of the Marin Municipal Water District where he was able to help prevent a coastal aqueduct from the Russian River and disposal of watershed lands by future boards, preserving 22,000 acres of watershed and native plant habitats. Wildlife work in Nepal whetted his interest in public health, and he returned to UC School of Public Health for a master’s degree in 1972. Dr. Griffin served for 15 years as Public Health Director at the Sonoma State Hospital for developmental disorders in Glen Ellen. In 1980 he was appointed Chief of the Hepatitis B, and later AIDS, Task Force for the 11 State Hospitals. On his retirement, he was given the Governor’s Award for his successful Hepatitis B Immunization Program.
In 1975, Dr. Griffin founded Hop Kiln Winery on the Russian River. To protect the river and to encourage wastershed management plans for all of California’s rivers, he founded the Russian River Task Force in 1990, the Russian River Environmental Forum, and cofounded Friends of the Russian River, now the Russian RiverKeeper. He and his wife Joyce gave the 45-acre Griffin Russian River Riparian Preserve to the Sonoma Land Trust; and together gave the 26-acre “Gina’s Orchard” to the Bishop’s Ranch in memory of this granddaughter, who lost her battle with leukemia at age 15.
Dr. “Marty” Griffin has long combined his passion for steelhead fly fishing, wildlife, and the environment with his skills in medicine and epidemiology. In numerous articles about his career, he has been called the “environmental physician,” “the nature doctor,” and “the doctor with mud on his shoes.”