Robert Redford lends name to U.S. college environmental body

LOS ANGELES Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:23am IST

Actor Robert Redford arrives for the premiere screening of HBO's The Big Picture : Rethinking Dyslexia in New York City October 25, 2012. REUTERS/Stephen Chernin

Actor Robert Redford arrives for the premiere screening of HBO's The Big Picture : Rethinking Dyslexia in New York City October 25, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Stephen Chernin

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood star and environmentalist Robert Redford lent his name on Monday to a new nature conservancy at a Southern California college, saying he hoped the research institute could help the environmentally abused region.

The 12-acre Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability at Pitzer College, endowed with $10 million from Hyatt hotel heir Nicholas Pritzker and his wife Susan, will house research and education facilities for environmental issues in Southern California, the college said.

Redford, 76, a Los Angeles native, said watching the city grow at break-neck speeds with little regard for nature after World War Two had influenced his environmental advocacy.

"This is the city I grew up in, and it's the city I grew disappointed in because I saw it disappear," the actor and director told Reuters. "I saw the city that I grew up in, that I loved, disappear because of uncontrolled development and greed, and it lost itself.

Los Angeles County, the nation's most populous at 9.9 million, is notorious for its sprawl, smog, traffic congestion and energy consumption.

California emits the second-highest volume of greenhouse gases among all U.S. states after Texas, according to World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank.

Pitzer College, located 30 miles east of Los Angeles in Claremont, California, said the conservancy aims to influence policymaking, and Redford said his role will be in part to document its research through his Sundance television channel.

"The real question is going to be how can this move from here to other places?" said "The Sting" actor.

"And to me that gets into storytelling. ... The entertainment industry can play a role in this by helping increase the distribution of this idea."

The conservancy is scheduled to open to students in autumn 2014.

(Reporting By Eric Kelsey, editing by Jill Serjeant and Todd Eastham)

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