MARTINEZ -- A local filmmaker and longtime environmental attorney brings both a modern-day relevance and an invitation for an audience to envision a time when a native Scotsman first set his sights on California's mountainous terrain in 1868.

Alameda resident Tony Garvin will be showing his film, "In Search of John Muir," at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 14, at the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez.

"It's really hard to put yourself in Muir's mindset and time frame," he says. "It'd be like us going to Mars or the moon. It must've been a mind-blower ... Muir was the perfect person to come (to the Sierra) and go wild ... It's no surprise he called it the range of light."

Garvin's travels include going to Scotland and trekking in the Sierra in areas off today's beaten path.

"To go to places where I was following in the footprints of Muir was somewhat eerie, to walk around where he would have walked, it gives you goose bumps," he says.

While Garvin and Muir have a shared affinity for conservation and savoring time spent in the mountains, the filmmaker says that he was fortunate to have that lifelong exposure to such environs, having grown up in the Pacific Northwest.

"My epiphany was realizing all the mountains weren't like Mount Rainier," he says of his ensuing brief hiatus from the 300-foot Douglas fir, cedar and redwoods, when he traveled to Cornell University to attend law school.


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"I didn't see a tree till Ohio," says Garvin, who was among the first attorneys hired by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1973, when he started reading Muir's books.

While interviewing the rangers at the Martinez site, Garvin realized the significance of the time his favorite naturalist spent there.

"Without Muir's time at the ranch, we wouldn't have his books," he says.

"John Muir's words have resonated through the decades and now his words are being brought to film," says Martinez City Councilman Mark Ross. "It's a great opportunity in 'Muirtinez' to hear his message."

Garvin believes that Muir was proof positive of "how much one single individual can do." He and Muir also share a belief in the integrity of each organism, that it "had the right to thrive, regardless of any potential benefit to man."

"That's a lesson we need to carry on," he says.

The upcoming screening of Garvin's film, along with myriad programs at the John Muir National Historic Site, are part of an ongoing commitment to keep Muir's message in the mind's eye of people of all ages.

"The simplest thing we do (at the John Muir site) is to let nature into our lives. It's really all that he needed," says Jill Harcke, director of the John Muir Mountain Day Camp.

If you go
What: Screening of documentary film, "In Search of John Muir"
When: 2 p.m., Sunday, July 14
Where: Visitor Center, John Muir National Historic Site, 4202 Alhambra Ave., Martinez
Cost: Free
Information: visit www.nps.gov/jomu, or call 925-228-8860