Who Are We?

We are an all volunteer grassroots non-profit 501 ( c )3 tax-exempt project and coalition of American Indians, environmental organizations, citizens action groups, scientists, legal experts and wildlife advocates dedicated to the protection and conservation of America's natural and cultural resources.

The number of members and coalition support groups fluctuates, but on an average there are 1,000 individual members and 30 groups throughout the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

According to our members and The San Bernardino Sun environmental reporter, Steven Church ...
"Spirit of the Sage Council [is] Southern California's leading environmental group dedicated to protecting the remaining patchwork of coastal sage scrub" for rare, threatened and endangered species…



What's with the name of the organization?

We are not a religious sectarian or a "new age" organization. The name "Spirit of the Sage Council" came from the Shoshone Gabrielino Nation's spiritual leader, Manuel Rocha, and Chief Ya'anna - Vera Rocha. It is believed by the indigenous California Shoshone Gabrielino tribe that the "Spirit" of the sacred sage (salvia apiana or white sage) is calling out to the people to protect the Sage's natural community and other imperiled habitats from extinction. It is believed that those who are in touch with Mother Earth will hear the calling of the Sage Spirit and come together to work within the "council." We are open to all races, religions and genders. We ask only that everyone treats each other with respect and focuses their participation in protecting Mother Earth and all of Nature's expressions without compromise.

What makes the Sage Council unique?

We address both the biological and cultural significance of conserving the habitats of rare, threatened and endangered species.

We view an ecosystem complete when the indigenous people of the land are present and actively involved in natural resource management. However, we do not believe that "management" is always a necessary component of conservation, but rather a scientific tool needed to provide for the recovery of endangered plants, fish and wildlife. In addition, we believe that a "hands off and feet out" approach is also effective in protecting sensitive habitat areas.

We are able to address critical conservation issues quickly as they arise...without a lot of bureaucratic committee decision making that is time consuming. Because of our biocentric philosophy, we are able to reach consensus quickly by taking a position, and actions, that benefit the earth and critters first.


Since 1991, the Sage Council has spearheaded the successful permanent conservation of over 2,000-acres of globally imperiled and state designated "very threatened" natural communities. Through coalition efforts countless rare, threatened and endangered plants and animals have been given an additional chance of survival and recovery. In addition, Sacred lands and mountain vistas have been left intact that rejuvenate our spirits and all those of future generations.

With office headquarters in Pasadena, the Sage Council was co-founded in Southern California by Chief Ya'anna - Vera Rocha of the indigenous Shoshone Gabrielino Nation and by Leeona Klippstein, the executive director of San Bernardino Sage Friends.

Our coordinators have either years of hands on experience as activists and community organizers and/or college degrees in natural resource management, ecology, health, psychology and other areas of expertise.

What exactly do you do -- to protect endangered species and habitats?

We use every tool in the chest, as long as it is non-violent and does not physically injure any living being.

We participate in the government decision making process at the local, state and federal level to the maximum extent possible. Sage Council coordinators attend public hearings, and speak for the wild ones that do not have a voice in the process, on behalf of our members and the public trust.

We instruct and encourage our members to participate (i.e. How to prepare your comments and speak at the podium) in public meetings before elected government representatives.

We assist concerned citizens in forming their own neighborhood groups to address specific environmental issues in their community.

We provide scientific and legal review of state Environmental Impact Reports, federal Environmental Impact Statements, Draft Recovery Plans for endangered species, Habitat Conservation Plans and Incidental Take Permits as well as providing written comment in support of maximum conservation measures.

We provide public education through a speakers forum at universities and high schools, distribution of literature, tabling information at events, holding press conferences and writing letters to the editor of news papers.

We keep a data base on land development projects in Southern California that have killed and are proposing to kill (take) rare, threatened and endangered species, including their coastal sage scrub habitat. In addition, we keep general maps on species and sacred sites locations in relationship to development threats.

We support other conservation organizations, on issues that we are concerned about, when asked.

We organize and participate in non-violent civil disobedience actions --e.g. Boston Tea Party style

We enforce environmental and civil rights laws when necessary and financially able to through the Courts.

Are you a hiking club and do you have social activities?

NO. However, from time to time we do go hiking and camping with each other. The Sage Council is a proactive conservation organization. The majority of our time is spent in defending the wild places and wild critters that many people go hiking to see. Yet, at the same time our group philosophy does not support the ideas that people should be able to hike everywhere…that nature is simply here for HUMANS to enjoy or destroy.

We do not support the development of hiking, bicycle or off-highway-vehicle trails in national forests, state parks or any other area that is important habitat areas. We ask that people, when in nature, walk softly and listen to the birds and rivers song…follow the bear, deer, coyote and rabbit trails… be respectful when visiting their home.

What are your current projects and critical issues that need support?

Our primary focus is the conservation of Coastal Sage Scrub natural communities in Southern California and more specifically Riversidean Alluvial Fan Sage Scrub in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. However, we are also actively protecting coastal wetland, forest, riparian woodland, desert and grassland habitats.

Our Sacred Lands Project focuses on the conservation of sacred lands of the Shoshone Gabrielino Nation and the traditions of their culture in Southern California.

Our Endangered Species Project focuses on Habitat Conservation Plans and Incidental Take Permits, under the federal Endangered Species Act, including the Clinton administration's policies. These concerns and issues are of national importance, while also being specific to certain regions.

Who are your major financial contributors?

Foundations provide the majority of our financial support and include:

Turner Foundation, Inc. (GA.)
Patagonia Environmental Programs (CA.)
Peradam Foundation (CA.)
National Endangered Species Network (CA.)
Fund For Wild Nature (OR.).

We also have some individual earth angels that provide generous contributions in times on need.

The rest comes from members and folks just like you.

How can I help?

1. Becoming a member and contributing whatever you can afford financially keeps the Sage Council alive. We need membership support throughout the U.S., especially in regards to protecting endangered species. As a result our voice becomes stronger and more far reaching in the political arena as your conservation representatives in the political arena. Membership numbers seem to make an impression, so please enroll your family and friends...spread the word about our good work.

2. Volunteer your services to the Sage Council. You don't have to be a scientist or lawyer. We need help in every area that any business would...secretarial and clerical, promotions, fund raising, printing, web masters etc.. Assist our volunteer project coordinators.

3. If you are a celebrity…lend us your name as a supporter and/or help us out at press conferences. Same with famous musicians, rock stars etc.… one benefit concert from a popular musician and/or band would help out not only financially, but in motivating your fans in getting actively involved with making the world a better place for all species.

4. If your looking for a subject of a Master's thesis or Ph.D. studies, let us guide us towards some biological issues that need to be studied and could be applied in our conservation work.

5. Donate. We need everything from new or upgraded computer hardware, scanners, printers, floppy discs, digital camera, film, recycled acid free or tree free paper and envelopes, postage stamps, phone cards, air travel credits, hotel discounts, outdoor equipment, walkie talkies, cell phones, auto mechanic services, dental care, health care....

All of these services and donations are greatly appreciated and lead to the protection of rare, threatened and endangered species, including habitats and sacred lands.

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