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    Lynn Brown leaves a legacy of horses in our communities

    Special to the Horsetrader

    Lynn Brown and her beloved Andalusian, Nova. (Courtesy photo)

    LOS ANGELES – Lynn Brown, whose public advocacy for horse interests in Southern California and beyond was unparalleled, died Jan. 1 after a brief illness.

    A lifelong rider with a relentless passion to protect equestrian rights, the choice for an equestrian lifestyle, and the right of horseback riders to the peaceful enjoyment of public trails, Lynn passed away at home with her son, Christopher, at her side.

    Lynn was the only child of J. Woodson Brown, a Texas businessman and cattle rancher, and Genevieve Brewster, a Southern Belle. She was raised in Southern Colorado on a cattle ranch. From the time she could walk, she rode.

    An accomplished horsewoman, Lynn trained and rode several horses over the years throughout Griffith Park. Some of her most memorable were Nikki, her mustang; Cleo, her Tennessee Walker; and Nova, her magnificent Andalusian.

    For anyone who knew or worked with Lynn, she was unsurpassed in her advocacy, working tirelessly for 25 years to keep Griffith Park safe for equestrians and hikers, trail runners and birdwatchers.

    Lynn Brown (center, in blue) and more than 100 riders from 17 organizations in the City of Los Angeles’s official Day of the Horse ceremony in October 2014 at City Hall. The annual event, sparked by the volunteer L.A. Equine Advisory Committee, reminds civic leaders of the importance of horses in their great city. (Betsy Annas photo)

    During a three-year period from 1999 to 2002, Lynn engaged a coalition of community leaders, neighborhood councils, environmental organizations and horseback riders to protect the heritage horse and hiking trails within the Park. In a room of 200 angry and concerned equestrians, she started what would become a citywide effort to maintain L.A. Parks safe for its Western Heritage. In the process she became a true ally to the Sierra Club, Los Angeles Neighborhood Councils surrounding the Park, activists from Committee to Save Elysian Park, riders from the Burbank and Glendale Rancho communities and other local groups and organizations.

    When Los Angeles City Planning once again revised its Bicycle Element, Lynn, as Deputy National Trail Coordinator for Equestrian Trails, Inc. (ETI), secured critical amendments to preserve historic dirt trails for safe riding experiences, again working with coalitions from prior battles.

    Her success relied on four principles: seeking allies (locally and across California); writing fine advocacy articles and letters (her much beloved “talking points”); listening to others; and acting strategically. She could commandeer an army of advocates. A friend once remarked that she was “an army of one.”

    To this day, the peaceful enjoyment of Historic Griffith Park and its Trails are due directly to the diligence and skills of Lynn Brown.

    Beginning in 2005, she became a member of the Griffith Park Working Group, which was set up by the L.A. Recreation and Parks Department. Over the next several years came guiding influences, including A Vision for Griffith Park, Urban Wilderness Identity that champions the Park for its bio-diversity, native species, unstructured aesthetic and continued emphasis on the wilderness values as exemplified by equestrian uses in the park. Approximately 2,000 horses board adjacent to the Park, either in backyards or in boarding stables, as well as in horseback rental stables. Vision recognized the significant Park use by either owners or guardians on a daily basis.

    In February 2009, Lynn worked with the late Councilman Tom LaBonge to accomplish a milestone in the city of Los Angeles: the official creation by the L.A. City Council of the Los Angeles Equestrian Advisory Committee, a 16-member citizen committee representing equestrians from all Council districts and the Mayor’s Office. Convened and managed by the L.A. Recreation and Parks Department, the LA-EAC soon began serving riders from South L.A., the Valley, the Westside — every Council District, and representing the diverse populations of the city who shared a common love for horseback riding. She helped raise funds for the Compton Junior Posse, now the Compton Cowboys. She arranged a carriage/team for Councilman La Bonge in the Toluca Lake Christmas Parade. She was thrilled to see the growing representation of Black Cowboys in the MLK Parades in 2018 and 2019. She brought back to prominence the recognition of the Day of the Horse at the Los Angeles City Council.

    Without her diplomatic and persistent skills, the important representation of the horse community would not exist today.

    She assisted the Rancho residents of Glendale and Burbank, and the Atwater community of Los Angeles, as a practiced voice in opposition to bad development and in support of good development. a few weeks before her death Jan. 1, 2021, she was instrumental in educating and securing opposition from local elected Burbank officials over a “proposal” for an aerial tram that would tear out the only public riding arena, Martinez Arena, in Griffith Park.

    She was a polished and accomplished writer and frequently contributed articles to Western Horseman and California Horsetrader on a range of issues: Griffith Park, the Ranchos of Burbank and Glendale, how to make friends with a bureaucrat. As a consummate communicator, her candor and advice were sought and effective. She made many friends over the years with General Managers, Superintendents, Park Rangers and the much-beloved maintenance staff. Every year, she provided flowering bulbs, Honeybaked Hams and personal notes and cards to them.

    Lynn is survived by her son, Christopher and daughter Feather. And the many friends she made from all walks life who shared her passion and love for the healing power of a horse. A Celebration of Her Life will be announced at a later date.

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