I first met Lane about 15 years ago on a habitat restoration session in Newport Valley, part of Matt Yurko’s Wednesday morning program. Lane loved habitat restoration. I have fond memories of Lane and my husband Howard on their mission to remove artichoke thistle and pampas grass from around the Bay. They spent many hours over some years starting early in the morning before it was too hot. Lane and I would at other times plant native plants in Newport Valley and the near the Delhi Channel by Bayview trail. He would dig the holes and I would do the planting. When I asked Lane what he used to do that made him so good at digging and so keen on restoring the land around the Bay, he would say with his wide grin and in his trademark hat: ‘I’m just a farm boy’. Little did I know then what an important role Lane Koluvek (and his wife Linda) had actually played in saving the Bay and setting up what later became NBC.
Lane was indeed a farm boy – he grew up on a farm in Brawley, California raising chickens, growing vegetables, and living off the land. He was one of seven children. His love of nature and open spaces went back to his early childhood. His grandfather built a plant nursery, the source for many of the date trees in the area. His mother had a garden with prize-winning flowers.
Lane moved to Newport Beach in the early 1950s to take petroleum classes at Orange Coast College. He then worked for Standard Oil and Shell Oil on offshore oil rigs before beginning a Master’s degree in Finance and Public Administration at California State University Long Beach. After graduation, he became Director of the Budget for CSULB for ten years and then worked for the Chancellors Office in Long Beach. He later co-owned and operated Olympus Control Systems Inc, which installed fire, security and alarm systems in many high profile commercial buildings.
Lane and his wife Linda were married for over 50 years. They traveled all over the world, and especially loved the Tahitian Islands, snorkeling and enjoying the beauty of that area. They loved to camp and found numerous places across the USA to explore, hike, enjoy the fauna and flora and especially birds, and take photographs of their adventures.
Linda was involved with the Friends of Newport Bay (FONB) before Lane. She went to a meeting at Newport Harbor High School about the campaign to save Upper Newport Bay from development. It was there that she met Frank Robinson who persuaded her to be the secretary and, later, the treasurer of FONB. Linda was impressed by the group and convinced Lane to join her at the meetings. She and Lane became close friends with Frank and Fran Robinson. They often went on holiday together, hosted Back Bay BBQs and parties, helped organize the first Earth Day celebrations at UCI (see p.53 in the Saving UNB book), and hosted the Friends Tours at Vista Point. Lane also helped with canoe tours and, in his later years, habitat restoration.
Lane was President of FONB from 1988 until it merged with the Upper Newport Bay Naturalists to become Newport Bay Naturalists and Friends (NBNF) in 2000. Lane had also been one of the first volunteers to take the Naturalists training program that started in 1990. He had the experience and expertise to become the first president of NBNF when it was formed in 2000. Lane was able to successfully merge the two organizations under his Presidency and, after only one year, he turned a thriving NBNF over to Jack Keating. Jack and Lane had met in 1990 when they were both enrolled in the first Naturalist training session and Jack had been president of Upper Newport Bay Naturalists between 1993 and 1999.
Annie Quinn and I interviewed Lane and Linda in January 2017 as part of our research for the book on Saving the Bay. They had been at our first meeting, attended by about 20 people, in the Muth Library in 2016 to discuss setting up the book project. Linda and Lane had kept quiet for most of that meeting but over the next few months and years, as we continued with meetings, interviews, and diving into boxes and boxes of archived information we noticed Lane and Linda had a story to tell about each and every piece of paper or photograph. They gave wonderful insights into the bay, the Robinsons, the years of friendship, and the struggle to keep up the fight to save the bay. Linda and Lane gave us the tools to bring the book to life.
When asked at the end of that 2017 interview what was his favorite part of the bay, Lane said without hesitation ‘Big Canyon! It is the easiest place to see the birds’. He and Linda loved to hike around the bay, Linda with her camera and Lane with his binoculars looking for any bird that may fly within sight. He was also asked in the interview about his hope for the future of the bay. He simply said he would like another Osprey platform installed (he was thrilled when the Ospreys finally nested on the existing platform in 2006) and he also wanted native trees planted in Big Canyon to replace the non-native Brazilian pepper trees. And in the near future these wishes may happen.
Rest in peace, Lane. You were a good friend to Upper Newport Bay. You made the world a better place and you will be missed by all who knew and loved you.