News.bytesNews.bytes Extra, issue 451  

 John Reginato commemorated with state resolution, boat ramp

For more than five decades, Redding’s John Reginato was hailed as a tourism leader for Redding and Shasta County.

He served causes ranging from natural resources conservation to the American Red Cross.  He was a close advisor to the Bureau of Land Management for over four decades and a leading voice keeping people informed about the natural beauty and richness of Northern California.

He died at age 89 in August 2007 after moving with his wife, Liz, from his beloved Shasta County to Washington State to be closer to his son.

This summer, the California State Legislature passed Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 132, to honor the accomplishments John Reginato made to northen California tourism and to designate the John F. Reginato Boat Ramp in Redding.

Two men standing together
John Reginato, right, with close friend and fellow BLM Resource Advisory Council member Jim Cooksley during a 2006 luncheon honoring Reginato for a lifetime of contributions to northern California.

“I had the best job in the world and I loved what I did,” Reginato told a gathering in Redding in July 2006.  “The only problem was, I didn’t make any money! But I would do it all over again.”

Steve Anderson, manager of the Bureau of Land Management’s Redding Field Office, and his predecessor, Chuck Schultz, were among those honoring Reginato at that event, along with members of the BLM’s Northwest California Resource Advisory Council and leaders from city government and journalism.

“We continue to benefit from the great work John did as manager of the Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association,” said BLM RAC member Bob Warren, the current executive director of the regional tourism organization. “And no matter where I travel in California, people always ask, ‘how’s John Reginato?’”

A Northern California native, Reginato was a member of the Dunsmuir High School class of 1935. He left California only briefly, to study journalism and play football at the University of Missouri (his team earned a 1942 Sugar Bowl berth, losing to Fordham, 2-0).

He returned to California in 1947, landing a job at a San Francisco advertising agency.

Two years later, Reginato began his focus on building Northern California tourism. He became Shasta Cascade Wonderland manager in 1949, and would hold the job for 41 years.

While leading Shasta Cascade, Reginato gained a deep appreciation for the important role of BLM-managed public lands in north state tourism. Determined to do his part to shape management of these rivers, forests, deserts and coastline areas, he won appointment in 1962 to the BLM’s statewide advisory board, a predecessor to today’s Resource Advisory Councils. 

After a decade of service Reginato became the first recreation interest group member to chair the committee. He recalled the appointment as one of his “proudest accomplishments.”

He later served on the Ukiah District Advisory Council and the Northwest California Resource Advisory Council, chairing both, and accumulating 40 years of service as a BLM advisor.

During those years, Reginato supported the BLM and other federal resource agencies on projects that continue to provide public recreation opportunities. These include:

  • Development of the first boat ramp and public recreation facilities at Eagle Lake in Lassen County.
  • Development of the Bizz Johnson Rail Trail between Susanville and Westwood. It is now a National Recreation Trail.
  • Acquisition of lands for public use in the Sacramento River Bend area north of Red Bluff. The field office named the Yana Trail after Reginato provided the suggestion.
  • Development of the Sacramento River Rail Trail.
  • Fisheries improvements on the Sacramento River.

Reginato’s service did not stop with the BLM.  He served eight years on the California Boating and Waterways Commission, including a term as chairman. He also served three terms as the national vice chairman for the American Red Cross and chaired the organization’s Redding chapter.

Reginato’s public service has been widely acclaimed. In 1995, John Koeberer, then chairman of the California State Chamber of Commerce, noted:

“John Reginato was singled-handedly responsible for bringing tens of thousands of tourists to our Shasta Cascade region. Throughout the years, he has made a tremendous impact in the enhancement of the tourism industry for the northern six counties that the Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association is responsible for. He really is Mr. Tourism in Northern California.”

Three years later, Reginato was named to the California Tourism Hall of Fame, joining a list of California luminaries including Ansel Adams, Gene Autry, Frank Lloyd Wright, Luther Burbank, John Sutter, Howard Hughes, Kit Carson, Jay Leno, Gen. George Patton, John Steinbeck and dozens more.

 “John’s work and dedication inspires us all,” said BLM’s Anderson. “The BLM and all of Northern California will benefit well into the future because of his accomplishments.”

Man holds a framed old photograph
John Reginato was presented with a group portrait of an early BLM advisory council during a 2006 luncheon.  The presentation was made as Redding community leaders gathered in 2006 to thank him for a lifetime of service to the northstate.

- J. Fontana, BLM Northern California District, Sept. 2010

BLM-California News.bytes, issue 451