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Red Rock Canyon activist Mary Kozlowski Pichot dies

Updated October 29, 2020 - 11:59 am

Mary Kozlowski Pichot turned her love of Red Rock Canyon into a lifetime spent protecting it and other vital natural resources in Southern Nevada.

The longtime environmentalist and activist — an original friend of Red Rock — died Saturday at age 81.

Kozlowski Pichot was born Oct. 23, 1939, in Town of Lake, Wisconsin. It was there, growing up on a farm near Lake Michigan, that her lifetime love of the outdoors — and her conviction to protect it — took root, said her daughter Terry Kozlowski.

Kozlowski Pichot and her first husband, Walter Kozlowski — an engineer who worked at the Nevada Test Site and later was chairman of the Clark County Republican Party — moved to Las Vegas in 1961. When she saw Red Rock Canyon, her daughter says, “she fell in love.”

In 1966, Kozlowski Pichot organized a group of local environmentalists to protect Red Rock from development, lobbying government officials here and in Washington, D.C., and helping to create Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Inspired preservation of canyon

“Mary’s vision and activism motivated and inspired the preservation of Red Rock Canyon,” said longtime local environmentalist Harold Larson, who knew Kozlowski Pichot since the mid-1960s.

Kozlowski was both vivacious and tenacious, Larson said, as well as a gifted communicator who was skilled at organizing and motivating people.

In 1971, Gov. Mike O’Callaghan appointed Kozlowski Pichot to the Colorado River Commission, making her, the first female appointee to a governmental board in Nevada and the first woman to serve on the commission, her daughter says.

Also in 1971, Kozlowski Pichot co-authored “A Matter of Life,” a pioneering examination of air pollution created by temperature inversions in the Las Vegas Valley. Writing the book prompted Kozlowski Pichot to advocate for a mass transit system here. In 1973, The New York Times acknowledged her activism in a story about proposals to build a monorail here, Terry Kozlowski said.

In 1966, Kozlowski Pichot co-founded, and served as first president of, the Archaeo-Nevada Society, with the goal of protecting and preserving native antiquities in Southern Nevada that were being stolen and sold.

Honored many times

She was honored many times for her work to preserve Southern Nevada’s natural spaces, receiving awards from organizations including the Nevada Wildlife Federation and the Rocky Mountain Center on the Environment. She also served as president of the Nevada Open Spaces Council, was a founding member of the Nevada Chapter of the League of Women Voters, and chaired the Las Vegas citizen advisory board on transportation and beautification.

She was a founding member of Aqua Vision, a member of the UNLV Library Foundation, a fellow of the Las Vegas Rotary Club, a member of the Water Pollution Control Committee of the Clark County Regional Planning Council, a member of the Las Vegas Wash Development Committee and a member of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Kozlowski Pichot also was a polio survivor and was honored with the Paul Harris Fellowship for contributions to Rotary International’s polio vaccination and eradication program. Larson notes that being mobility-challenged in later life “did not keep her from continuing to be active and involved in the community.”

As a planning specialist for the Economic Opportunity Board of Clark County, she developed the Head Start program, Foster Grandparents, Meals on Wheels and the Transportation Network for Seniors and Handicapped, according to Terry Kozlowski. “She cared a lot about Nevada.”

Kozlowski Pichot was preceded in death by her son, Scott Walter, and husbands Walter Kozlowski and Andre Pichot. Survivors include daughters Mary Kozlowski-Vought of Utah and Terry Kozlowski and Kim Kozlowski Leaver of Las Vegas; sister Charlene Frank of Reno; and three grandchildren.

A viewing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Nov. 9 at Our Lady of Las Vegas Catholic Church, 3050 Alta Drive, followed by a Mass at 10:30 a.m. A repast is scheduled for noon at Angel Park Golf Club, 100 S. Rampart Blvd.

Contact John Przybys at jprzybys@reviewjournal.com. Follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.

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