Thursday, the United States Senate passed S. 925 (408-7), legislation to name an Eastern Sierra peak after Andrea Mead Lawrence, an Olympic gold medalist, member of the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame, and environmental preservation activist.
S. 925 is a companion to Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon’s H.R. 1818, and all that remains for the bill to become law is President Obama’s signature.
Friday, Congressman McKeon praised the bill’s passage and Lawrence’s contribution to California history. The following are his remarks on this bill as prepared for the Congressional Record:
“I would like to thank Senator Boxer for working with me to ensure the legacy of a great woman who called the Eastern Sierra home. Let me also express my appreciation to the leaders of the Committee on Natural Resources, Chairman Hastings and Ranking Member Markey who worked to help bring this legislation to the floor today, as well as Majority Leader Cantor for allowing this bill to move.
“Andrea Mead Lawrence was a remarkable woman. I was honored to know and work with her for the protection of the Eastern Sierra, a cause she championed for much of her life. Born in Rutland County, Vermont on April 19, 1932, she developed a life-long love of winter sports and appreciation for the environment. A skilled skier, she competed in the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland as well as the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d’Ampezzo Italy. She also served as the torch lighter at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California. In the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo Norway, she won two Gold Medals in the Olympic special and giant slalom races. For her significant accomplishments, she was inducted into the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1958, at the age of 25.
“These remarkable achievements at a young age, however, were just the beginning of a life of service to her community and environmental preservation. In 1968, Andrea moved to Mammoth Lakes in the spectacularly beautiful Eastern Sierra of California. It was in this special region she spent the rest of her life working to protect the area’s natural treasures.
“Never one to rest on her accomplishments, she founded the Friends of Mammoth to maintain the beauty and serenity of Mammoth Lakes and the Eastern Sierra. She served for 16 years on the Mono County Board of Supervisors, where she worked tirelessly to protect and restore Mono Lake, Bodie State Historic Park, and other important natural and cultural landscapes of the Eastern Sierra. As a member of the Great Basin Air Pollution Control District, she worked to reduce air pollution caused by the dewatering of Owens Lake. In 2003, she founded the Andrea Lawrence Institute for Mountains and Rivers to protect the environment and the economic vitality of this important region.
“In 2008, she testified before the Mono County Board of Supervisors in favor of the Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act, a bill enacted the day before she died on March 31, 2009 at the age of 76. Andrea left a rich legacy of a family of five children and four grandchildren, as well as a distinguished record in skiing. Her tireless efforts have left a better legacy for the people who live and recreate in the Eastern Sierra.
“Andrea Mead Lawrence’s life philosophy is summed up in her quote ‘Your life doesn't stop by winning medals. It's only the beginning. And if you have the true Olympic spirit, you have to put it back into the world in meaningful ways.’ Mr. Speaker, it is very fitting to name Peak 12,240 'Mt. Andrea Lawrence,' both in her honor and as a visible point of inspiration for future generations.”