Enrico Bongio Papers, MS 124
This collection contains papers and photographs relating to the environmental activism of San Luis Obispo resident Enrico Bongio. The collection contains correspondence with state and federal agencies, and local environmentalists, minutes and agendas of local non-profit environmental groups; articles and newspaper clippings; photographs and slides of the Eastern portion of San Luis Obispo county Kern County adjacent.
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- Title: Enrico Bongio Papers, 1952-1993 (bulk 1983)
- Collection Number: MS 124
- Creator: Bongio, Enrico, 1922 –
- Extent: 2 Hollinger boxes
- Language: English
Enrico Bongio was born to Vincenzo and Maria Bongio on March 23, 1922, in Shively, Humboldt County, California. He attended Fortuna Union High School and graduated in the class of 1939. By this time, fishing and hunting and conservation of our natural resources had become an important part of his way of life.
Majoring in Industrial Arts Instruction, Bongio enrolled at Humboldt State College in Arcata, California. World War II interrupted his college career when he was drafted for the U.S. Army and inducted on January 5, 1943. He was trained as a radio operator and was a member of the 321st Signal Company Wing, providing communications for three fighter plane groups, starting with the invasion of Normandy and ending the war located in Konegstein, Germany. He was discharged as a sergeant on October 23, 1945.
Following the war, he returned to Humboldt State College for one semester before transferring to Chico State College where he graduated in December of 1947. His first teaching assignment was in the Industrial Arts Department of Sonoma Union High School, Sonoma, California.
While at Sonoma, he was recruited by Elgin Knott, head of Industrial Division at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Bongio started teaching Welding Technology courses at Cal Poly in September 1948, while maintaining ties to the welding industry through a variety of jobs.
Bongio's environmental activism began when he joined the San Luis Obispo Sportsmen's Association in 1951. Shortly after joining he Sportsmen's Association, he started attending meetings relating to Fish and Game conservation and it was there that he met Ian and Eben McMillan of Shandon, California. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Bongio served on the Sportsmen's Council of Central California, comprised of clubs in thirteen California counties.
During this time, he also became involved with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and what he perceived as the mismanagement of the vast Temblor — Carrizo Plain–Caliente Area in the eastern part of San Luis Obispo County.
Bongio was especially concerned about the condition of the range and the resulting effects on the quail and chukar partridge populations. After the BLM allowed a major sheep rancher to graze thousands of head of cattle and sheep grazing the area through expand stock –watering troughs, range conditions rapidly deteriorated. Bongio and Ian McMillan battled the BLM's Bakersfield office, using newspaper advocacy and the sportsmen's associations to lobby the local congressman and the BLM in Washington. Bongio and his colleagues were successful: the San Luis Obispo County Supervisors provided funding for fenced test plots in two areas in the Temblor Range.
Because of his interest and activism, Bongio was asked to serve on an advisory committee of the Bakersfield BLM, although he was disappointed to see how slowly the BLM and the California Fish and Game Department moved to improve the condition of this range. Bongio recalled, "Eventually, improvements were made and the range conditions of today are at last a little better than in those days of total disregard and destruction."
Throughout his years of activism, Bongio used a 35mm Argus Camera to produce the colored slides in this collection. Bongio retired from the Industrial Engineering Department of Cal Poly in the spring of 1992.
Enrico Bongio, 2005
Scope and Content
Scope and Content Note
This collection contains papers and photographs relating to the environmental activism of San Luis Obispo resident Enrico Bongio. The collection contains correspondence with state and federal agencies and local environmentalists, minutes and agendas of local non-profit environmental groups; articles and newspaper clippings; photographs and slides of the San Luis Obispo area.
The original order of the collection, which was roughly chronological, has been preserved according to the binders in which the collection was donated. The collection is organized into three series:
- Activism – Grazing on Public Lands, 1959-1994
- Access to Caliente Mountain, Carrizo Plain National Monument, 1985-87
- Litigation – Rudnick v. McMillan, 1993
Geographical locations noted in this guide are assumed to be in California unless noted otherwise.