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Tuesday, April 1, 2003

'Wise-use' land advocate dies

Newberry woman's 'tireless crusade' began in the 1960s


NEWBERRY SPRINGS -- A land-use activist who was the State Assembly's 2000 Woman of the Year died Saturday.

Hildamae Voght, 94, died at Loma Linda University Medical Center after she developed blood clots following injuries from a fall earlier in March.

Voght was an advocate of the wise use of federal land who sought to find a balance between protecting the environment and accommodating humans' needs for activities such as mining. She was the founder of a grassroots organization called the California Outdoor Recreation League.

Barstow resident Julie Clemmer, president of roofing material company Brubaker-Mann Inc., encountered Voght years ago because they were often advocates for the same land-use issues.

Clemmer said that Voght, a homemaker, made so many trips to Sacramento that she had to register as a lobbyist.

"She was a pioneer in what we call the wise-use movement, in all types of issues, like mining, fishing, logging, farming," Clemmer said. "That's how we met. We kept showing up at all the same meetings, so we became friends."

Clemmer and Voght frequently traveled together over the years to lobby on land-use issues.

"We went to Washington, D.C., together, I don't know how many times, and Sacramento," Clemmer said. "We went to Las Vegas. We were in a protest march there. She was recognized from all the different wise-use groups because of her tireless crusade."

Voght lived in Newberry Springs for more than 20 years and was an officer in the Newberry Springs-Harvard Real Property Owners Association.

Ginger Hancock, another board member in the association, said she was a long-time friend of Voght's.

"She was dedicated to her causes and kept the goal in mind," Hancock said. "She kept focused on the solutions to problems."

Voght's nephew, Doug Crawford of San Marino, said his aunt had a wide network of acquaintances in political circles.

"She was very prominent in asserting the public's right to use public lands for recreation," he said. "She had testified in front of seven different secretaries of the interior over the years."

Born on a farm in Hancock County, Ill., on Oct. 22, 1909, Voght attended Gem City Business College in Quincy, Ill. She married Joe Voght in 1931, and they left their home in Chicago for better job prospects in California during the Great Depression.

Upon arriving to California, Voght attended trade school and the University of Southern California where she learned photography. She worked at a photography studio for some time and as a photo journalist for the Huntington Park Bulletin.

The couple started the Sta-Cold Commercial Refrigeration business in Huntington Park. Voght retired in 1967, the year she and her husband bought property in Newberry Springs.

Crawford said the closed-casket funeral is tentatively planned for Sunday at 2 p.m. at the gravesite at Daggett-Pioneer Cemetery in Newberry Springs, followed by a reception at the Newberry Springs Senior Citizens Center. Residents should call Mead Mortuary at 256-5671 to confirm the final details of the funeral plans, Crawford said. He also recommended that people make donations to their favorite charities in lieu of flowers.

Kelly Donovan can be reached at or 256-4122.

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