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What life was like in Sonoma County in 1970

The first year of the 1970s ushered in a decade of change for Sonoma County.

From war protests, to hippie communes, to environmental advocacy campaigns, 1970 saw the birth of several important movements with lasting impact.

On April 22, 1970, the United States celebrated its first Earth Day in efforts to raise awareness of environmental causes. Events were held at thousands of college campuses, primary and secondary schools and communities across the nation. Locally, hundreds of students rode bicycles to school, collected cans for recycling and picked up litter. Sen. Alan Cranston gave a keynote speech at a Santa Rosa's Veterans Building to commemorate the environmental milestone.

On May 5, 1970, after two days of anti-Vietnam-war rallies at Sonoma State College, Santa Rosa Junior College, and other colleges across the nation, Gov. Ronald Reagan ordered all colleges and universities in California to close until May 11. The nationwide demonstrations were provoked by America's invasion of Cambodia, and the National Guard shootings of four students at Kent State University in Ohio.

In September of 1970, residents at Lou Gottlieb's Morningstar ranch where awoken by bulldozers when a crew led by Sonoma County sheriff's deputies came by to raze some 18 crude shelters on the 32-acre commune.

Earlier that year, Superior Court Judge Kenneth Eymann ruled that the Limelighter's musician was still owner of the ranch, in spite of having deeded the property to God in 1969. Part of the back-to-the-land movement, Gottlieb believed in “free land for free people” and invited people from across the nation to homestead on his property. Their makeshift cabins, constructed from found materials, were not up to code and Gottlieb was levied heavy fines for construction and health department violations.

Around Thanksgiving of 1970 Red Power activist Richard Oakes was arrested for collecting $1 tolls from travelers at the intersection of Skaggs Springs and Tin Barn roads in the Stewart's Point Rancheria. Although Oakes claimed the armed “toll booth” was initiated to prevent road crews from expanding easements through the Pomo tribal land, the Sonoma County Road Department disputed the claim.

Click through our gallery above to see some of the other historic events that occurred in 1970.

- News Researcher Teresa Meikle contributed to this report.

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