|Home||Previous: Return to the Wild||Next: The Dawn of Conservation|
Audubon recognizes 100 people who shaped the environmental movement and made the 20th century particularly American.
|EDWARD ABBEY (1927-1989)||ANSEL ADAMS|
|JOHN H. ADAMS (b. 1936)||ARTHUR AUGUSTUS ALLEN (1885-1964)|
|BRUCE BABBITT (b. 1938)||ROBERT BATEMAN (b. 1930)|
|WILLIAM BEEBE (1877-1962)||WENDELL BERRY (b. 1934)|
|ROBERT H. BOYLE (b. 1928)||LUCY BRAUN (1889-1971)|
|DAVID BROWER||LESTER BROWN (b. 1934)|
|JOHN RICE BURROUGHS (1837-1921)||TOM CADE (b. 1928)|
|ARTHUR CARHART (1892-1978)||ARCHIE CARR (1907-1987)|
|RACHEL CARSON||JIMMY CARTER (b. 1924)|
|FRANK M. CHAPMAN (1864-1945)||ERNEST F. COE (1866-1951)|
|THEODORA COLBORN (b. 1927)||BARRY COMMONER (b. 1917)|
|WILLIAM CONWAY (b. 1929)||JACQUES-YVES COUSTEAU (1910-1997)|
|JOHN & FRANK CRAIGHEAD (b. 1916)||J. N. "DING" DARLING (1876-1962)|
|BERNARD DEVOTO (1897-1955)||WILL H. DILG (1869-1926)|
|MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS||WILLIAM O. DOUGLAS (1898-1980)|
|RENÉ DUBOS (1901-1982)||SYLVIA EARLE (b. 1935)|
|PAUL EHRLICH (b. 1932)||DAVID FOREMAN (b. 1947)|
|DIAN FOSSEY (1932-1985)||LOUIS AGASSIZ FUERTES (1874-1927)|
|R. BUCKMINSTER FULLER (1895-1983)||DAVID GAINES (1947-1988)|
|LOIS GIBBS (b. 1946)||GEORGE BIRD GRINNELL (1849-1938)|
|DENIS HAYES (b. 1944)||JOSEPH HICKEY (1907-1993)|
|WILLIAM T. HORNADAY (1854-1937)||HAROLD L. ICKES (1874-1952)|
|LADY BIRD JOHNSON (b. 1912)||LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON (1908-73)|
|ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM (b. 1947)||PAUL KROEGEL (1864-1948)|
|FRED KRUPP (b. 1954)||WINONA LADUKE (b. 1959)|
|ALDO LEOPOLD||LES LINE (b. 1935)|
|CURT MACK (b. 1955)||BENTON MACKAYE (1879-1975)|
|ROBERT MARSHALL (1901-1939)||STEPHEN T. MATHER (1867-1930)|
|MARGARET MEE (1909-1988)||FRANCISCO "CHICO" MENDES (1944-1988)|
|HEINZ MENG (b. 1924)||THOMAS MORAN (1837-1926)|
|JOHN MUIR||MARGARET MURIE (b. 1902)|
|GAYLORD NELSON (b. 1916)||MARGARET MORSE NICE (1883-1974)|
|RICHARD MILHOUS NIXON (1913-1994)||PATRICK NOONAN (b. 1942)|
|FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED (1822-1903)||SIGURD F. OLSON (1899-1982)|
|KATHARINE ORDWAY (1899-1979)||MARGARET OWINGS (b. 1913)|
|DAVID PACKARD (1912-1996)||RUTH PATRICK (b. 1907)|
|T. GILBERT PEARSON (1873-1943)||OLIN SEWALL PETTINGILL JR. (b. 1907)|
|ROGER TORY PETERSON||GIFFORD PINCHOT (1865-1946)|
|RICHARD H. POUGH (b. 1904)||CHANDLER ROBBINS (b. 1918)|
|JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER JR.||ROBERT RODALE (1930-1990)|
|FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT (1882-1945)||THEODORE ROOSEVELT|
|CARL SAFINA (b. 1955)||JOHN C. SAWHILL (b. 1936)|
|PAUL SCHAEFER (1909-1996)||GEORGE B. SCHALLER (b. 1933)|
|PETE SEEGER (b. 1919)||MICHAEL SOULÉ (b. 1936)|
|WALLACE STEGNER (1909-1993)||JOHN TERBORGH (b. 1936)|
|TED TURNER (b. 1938)||STEWART (b. 1920) & MORRIS UDALL (b. 1922)|
|EDGAR (b. 1906) & PEGGY WAYBURN (b. 1917)||EDWARD O. WILSON|
|HAZEL WOLF (b. 1898)||ROBERT STERLING YARD (1861-1945)|
|HOWARD ZAHNISER (1906-1964)|
Sometimes as sweet as a cactus strawberry, often as stinging as a saguaro needle, Edward Abbey's prose defined a way of thinking about "the New West." Desert Solitaire (1968) was his elegy -- the book that critics include in the pantheon of literature of the American West -- but a later work, The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975), represented his call to arms, inspiring friends to found the radical environmental group Earth First! Wherever Abbey traveled, he carried a résumé that listed "saving the earth" as his primary career objective.
Drawn to the High Sierra early in life, the photographer viewed his pictures as retreats for urban dwellers anesthetized by technology.
No American nature photographer has had a greater influence than Ansel Adams in shaping public consciousness. Whether he was capturing Yosemite's Half Dome at sunrise, the Snake River beneath the cloud-shrouded Teton Mountains, or the cliffs above the ocean tidepools at Big Sur, in California, Adams set the standard for the perfect picture.
Born in San Francisco in 1902, Adams seemed destined in his early years to become a concert pianist, but the High Sierra drew him out of recital halls and into the shadows of the Yosemite Valley. Like John Muir, whose words are often illustrated with Adams's photographs, he was a man of the West who attracted his greatest following in the East. Adams became vice-chairman of the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1940, and he also served as curator at the George Eastman House, a photography museum in Rochester, New York.
Despite his commercial and technical triumphs, Adams endured criticism for having the gall to compile an oeuvre of brooding and ethereal landscapes free of reference to people. In 1952 the legendary photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson pilloried Adams's choice of material -- nature -- as lacking intimacy in a postmodern world, where humanity was the focus of life on earth.
In fact, Adams viewed his pictures as reflective retreats for urban dwellers left anesthetized by technology. A prolific writer as well as a photographer, he wrote books on composition and film development that influenced those who followed in his footsteps, among them Galen Rowell, David Muench, and even the incomparable Eliot Porter.
-- Todd Wilkinson
John Adams entered the arena of environmental law in the late 1960s. When a major power plant was proposed for a site in the Hudson River valley, in New York, he and other activists blocked the construction, setting a precedent for future law. Adams went on to become the first -- and for three months the only -- employee of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an organization that now has a staff of 170 and a membership of 400,000.
In 1914 Arthur Allen wrote a Ph.D. thesis on the red-winged blackbird that is considered to have set the standard for the study of birds in the field. In 1915, partly at his urging, Cornell University established the nation's first graduate program in ornithology; Allen went on to found the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. He also pioneered the recording of birdsongs, for which the lab has become world renowned, and was an accomplished bird photographer as well.
Bruce Babbitt, the secretary of the interior since 1993 and a former governor of Arizona, was instrumental in the creation of the Grand Staircase -- Escalante National Monument, in Utah. He also brokered a historic agreement to protect the Florida Everglades, started tearing down harmful dams, and mandated that ecosystem planning be implemented within the Department of the Interior.
With his evocative images of animals in their native habitat, Canadian painter Robert Bateman is one of the world's best-known contemporary wildlife artists. His paintings have brought a heightened awareness of nature to countless people and have raised millions of dollars for conservation causes. Rather than rest on his reputation, Bateman constantly uses his popularity to speak out for the environment.
During a long career with the New York Zoological Society (now the Wildlife Conservation Society), William Beebe traveled the globe, doing first-rate scientific research on subjects ranging from rare pheasants in Asian forests to deep-sea creatures, and also writing about his experiences for general audiences. In some two dozen books he captured the popular imagination with accounts of odd animals in South American jungles and the undersea life that he observed while making dives in a bathysphere. Beebe introduced the public to the idea of biodiversity before that word was used, and to the importance of protecting it.
Wendell Berry, philosopher and poet, has chronicled the decline of small farms in the United States and its spiritual and environmental impact on the nation. As growers of food, stewards of the soil, and vanguards of open space, farmers provide a literal connection between modern civilization and the primitive past, Berry says. His works, written from his farm in Henry County, Kentucky, include The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture and Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community.
An avid fisherman with an encyclopedic knowledge of New York's Hudson River, Bob Boyle founded the organization that, in 1983, became the Riverkeeper. The group's 1986 action against Exxon, which was polluting the Hudson, is considered an environmental landmark; it inspired the creation of many similar groups around the country. Boyle, a writer for Sports Illustrated, is the author of The Hudson River: A Natural and Unnatural History and coauthor of Acid Rain.
A plant ecologist who became the first female president of the Ecological Society of America, Lucy Braun amassed nearly 12,000 plant specimens during her research career -- a collection that now resides at the Smithsonian Institution. Her magnum opus, Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America, completed in 1950, synthesized 25 years of work and 65,000 miles of travel through many remote tracts of wilderness. Braun helped protect several areas in her native southern Ohio, including the 53-acre Lynx Prairie Preserve, now a national landmark.
Dedicated, self-assured, and fearless, he has campaigned to protect wilderness, becoming the dean of the modern environmental movement.
In wilderness, the world gets put to its own music again," David Brower once said. "Wipe out wilderness and the world's a cage." In his nearly 50 years at the leading edge of modern environmentalism, Brower has rarely missed an opportunity to stand in the way of whatever harm we humans might do to the wildness that sustains us. As executive director of the Sierra Club from 1952 to 1969, Brower helped transform a clubby group of outdoor enthusiasts into the very model of what a national environmental organization could be and do, bringing its membership from 2,000 to more than 77,000 during his tenure. Above all, it was Brower who in the 1950s orchestrated the fight against the Bureau of Reclamation's attempts to build dams in Dinosaur National Monument, which straddles the Colorado-Utah border. Brower forged a coalition of conservation groups that combined an increasingly sophisticated political intelligence with inspired propaganda to give the movement one of the major political triumphs in its history. Moreover, the lessons and the tactics learned -- the power of unity, the useful intricacies of the legislative process, and above all, the value of aggressive, multimedia public relations campaigns -- have long since become an integral part of the environmental movement. (The triumph came at the expense of beautiful Glen Canyon on the Colorado River, flooded by a substitute dam. Brower has regretted that loss all his life.)
Dedicated, fearless, and self-assured -- traits read as autocratic and inflexible by many who have crossed swords with him -- Brower has had his institutional difficulties. Because of numerous disagreements, the Sierra Club board asked for his resignation in 1969. He went on to establish Friends of the Earth, where he soon found himself in another management crisis; he left in 1986. He then founded the Earth Island Institute, where he remains as chairman. For all his organizational ups and downs, Brower's voice remains that of the inimitable "Archdruid," as writer John McPhee characterized him -- the high priest of environmentalism, a man whose stubborn convictions and unique contributions have long since earned him his place as the dean of the modern environmental movement.
-- T. H. Watkins
Founder and president of Worldwatch Institute, a nonprofit research group established in 1974 to "alert policy makers and the general public to emerging global trends in the availability and management of resources," Lester Brown started his career as an agricultural analyst for the federal government. Worldwatch's annual State of the World tracks the status of the planet's natural resources. Brown, a leading proponent of sustainable development, has been called "one of the world's most influential thinkers" and "the guru of the global environmental movement."
Through his books and magazine articles, written from 1870 to 1920, John Burroughs provided a window to the natural world for countless Americans. From his cabin on the Hudson River in New York, Burroughs wrote about birds and flowers and natural events in a way that inspired people to look at their own surroundings more closely. His famous friendships with such powerful individuals as Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Ford helped popularize nature study.
A skilled scientist and a passionate admirer of birds of prey, Tom Cade documented the decline of the peregrine falcon and other raptors in the era of DDT -- and then worked tirelessly to halt their losses and restore their populations. He worked out methods of raising falcons for release into the wild, bolstering the species' recovery in North America. He also founded the Peregrine Fund, which has gone on to work successfully with other endangered birds.
Landscape architect Arthur Carhart began his career with the Forest Service in 1919, and he left his mark as an advocate of federal wilderness areas. In 1921, in collaboration with Aldo Leopold, he convinced the Forest Service that an area in the White River National Forest, in Colo-rado, should remain undeveloped, setting the stage for protection of other wildlands. Carhart's subsequent lobbying helped create what is today the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, in northern Minnesota.
Archie Carr, a herpetologist and the author of several popular books on natural history, including The Windward Road and So Excellent a Fishe, brought the plight of sea turtles to the world's attention. Almost nothing had been known about these "monsters of the deep" until Carr began investigating their life cycles, remarkable migrations, and fast-dwindling numbers. He and his wife, Marjorie, also fought to preserve some of Florida's most splendid rivers, including the Suwannee and the Oklawaha.
The food and chemical industries pilloried her as a cultist and a spinster, but her scientific skill and eloquence touched off the Age of Ecology.
A reserved, private person, Rachel Carson became the center of the most intense firestorm in the history of conservation with her book Silent Spring. She had taught zoology at the University of Maryland from 1931 through 1936. As a marine biologist and editor of publications for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, she had acquired the professional background that gradually led her to fame. Her books about the oceans, notably The Sea Around Us, which won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 1951, had established her as a best-selling author of international repute.
These experiences gave Carson a unique preparation for her role as environmental catalyst. During the 1950s she began to hear disquieting reports from scientific colleagues about widespread declines among bird and mammal populations. She started to look more deeply into the working of ecosystems and the effects of new, long-lasting agricultural chemicals such as DDT. In 1962, after four years of exhaustive research, she published Silent Spring.
A campaign organized and funded by the food and chemical industries blanketed the press. Critics, almost all of them with close ties to growers and the marketers of chemicals, called Carson a "cultist" and her book a "hoax." Many of the attacks were sexist. "I thought she was a spinster," one critic remarked. "What's she so worried about genetics for?"
But as a presidential commission was to show, Carson was a careful scientist who urged not the rejection of all pesticides but a ban on those shown to be most harmful and the judicious use of the others. Using the research of prominent biologists, she had built a convincing case that biological systems were being upset by the careless use of pesticides.
Carson's work survived the carping of other scientists, and her book prompted federal agencies to ban DDT and to control other contaminants some years before they would otherwise have acted. It took one woman, with the skill to penetrate to the roots of biological reality and an eloquence that made her findings heard, to touch off the Age of Ecology.
-- Frank Graham Jr.
No U.S. president since Teddy Roosevelt has done more for the protection of public land than Jimmy Carter. He convinced Congress to pass the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980, which protected 104 million acres in Alaska -- the single largest conservation initiative in U.S. history. He also signed a law preventing the strip- mining of public lands and the Superfund law, which provides for the cleanup of hazardous-waste sites.
Although he left school at 16 and had no scientific training, Frank Chapman became a leading ornithologist, working at the American Museum of Natural History for more than 50 years. Besides his scientific work, he popularized birdwatching among the general public. He founded the Christmas Bird Count, wrote books about conservation, promoted bird photography, encouraged wildlife artists, and founded Bird-Lore, which eventually evolved into Audubon magazine. Chapman's commitment to conservation led many birdwatchers to become concerned with protecting birds and their habitat.
When he moved to Miami, in 1925, Ernest Coe, a retired landscape architect, began working ceaselessly for the creation of Everglades National Park. Without Coe's "startling vision, slow-burning passion, steely endurance, and indomitable will there would be no Everglades National Park . . . and probably no Everglades," wrote Marjory Stoneman Douglas, whom Coe had enlisted as an ally in his effort to preserve South Florida.
Fellow scientists have called Theodora Colborn the Rachael Carson of the 1990s. A senior scientist at the World Wildlife Fund, Colborn pieced together the story of how chemical pollutants disrupt the hormonal systems of wildlife, and possibly of humans. These "endocrine disrupters" include persistent toxic compounds previously linked to cancer, among them PCBs and DDT, as well as some additives to plastics and detergents. The substances act most powerfully on fetuses exposed to the compounds in the womb.
"We may yet learn that to save ourselves we must save the world," Barry Commoner once wrote. Commoner began his career as a biologist, studied plant physiology and virology, and went on to examine the effects of radiation on living tissue, which led to techniques for the early diagnosis of cancer. In 1963 his Committee for Nuclear Information helped persuade President John F. Kennedy to sign a treaty banning above-ground nuclear tests. A prolific writer, he runs the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems, at Queens College, City University of New York.
William Conway has been the director of New York City's Bronx Zoo since 1962 and general director of the Wildlife Conservation Society since 1966. He guided the society to its position as a leading conservation organization that now operates nearly 300 scientific projects in developing countries. Conway helped to develop a dozen international wildlife reserves, national monuments, and parks, and also played a leading role in the evolution of zoos and aquariums into centers for environmental science and conservation.
An inventor and filmmaker, Jacques Cousteau began probing the submerged treasures of the seas -- the last unexplored regions of the earth -- in 1943, when he codeveloped the Aqua-Lung. Aboard the Calypso, the retired minesweeper that he transformed into a research vessel, Cousteau became the bard of the oceans, awakening humanity to the wonders of the marine environment and calling attention to the need to protect it.
During the 1950s and '60s, twin brothers John and Frank Craighead outfitted 29 grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park with radio collars and tracked them across an area the size of Vermont. They documented what the bears ate, how they bonded, and where they prowled, showing that Yellowstone grizzlies roamed far beyond the park's boundaries. The Craigheads' pioneering research helped save grizzly bears from extinction in the lower 48 states, and also brought the ecosystem concept to the fore of conservation.
At the peak of his influence as a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling was read by millions. Because of his commitment to publicizing the dangers of pollution and wildlife extinction, he was asked by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1934, to head the U.S. Biological Survey -- now the Fish and Wildlife Service. Darling's legacy includes a 5,030-acre wildlife refuge in Florida that bears his name, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Federal Duck Stamp Program, which uses fees charged to hunters of migratory waterfowl to acquire and protect habitat.
Historian, journalist, and one of the American West's earliest and most outspoken conservationists, Bernard DeVoto spotlighted the threats posed by overgrazing, mining, and lumbering on public lands; he often wielded his pen against special interests and government agencies. A longtime columnist for Harper's, DeVoto published several epic histories of the American frontier, including Across the Wide Missouri, which won a Pulitzer Prize. He helped mobilize opposition to dam construction in Dinosaur National Monument, in Colorado and Utah, and fought an attempt to put federal lands in state hands.
The Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge -- the nation's first sanctuary for fish -- owes its existence to the avid fisherman and lure designer Will Dilg. In 1922 Dilg organized a group of wealthy, influential anglers and hunters into the Izaak Walton League of America, which fought the draining of a great midwestern marsh for farmland. Two years later the marsh became part of the Upper Mississippi refuge. The league's focus has since expanded to include air, land, wildlife, and habitat protection; its current membership is 50,000.
She railed against those who threatened the wetlands of South Florida and campaigned to protect an area at once hostile and beautiful.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas forever changed the way Americans view the Florida Everglades with her book The Everglades: River of Grass, which distilled the 6,000-square-mile marsh into its fierce and elemental beauty. "The clear burning light of the sun pours daylong into the sawgrass and is lost there, soaked up, never given back," she wrote. "Only the water flashes and glints. The grass yields nothing."
For much of this century, Douglas has been associated with the Everglades. In the 1920s she wrote editorials opposing its draining and urging its protection; in the 1930s and 1940s she served on a committee seeking to form a Florida national park, and she lobbied the federal and state governments for its creation. In 1947, the year she wrote River of Grass, she sat on the dais with President Harry S. Truman during the dedication of Everglades National Park. However, despite her previous efforts, Douglas once said that she did not become truly involved with the Everglades and the effort to save it until 1967, when, at the age of 78, she wrote Florida: The Long Frontier and became one of the country's leading environmental activists.
In 1969 Douglas founded Friends of the Everglades, now a 5,000-member group pledged to the protection and restoration of the South Florida wetland. She traveled all over the state speaking on behalf of the Everglades and railing against its enemies: foot-dragging politicians, land-hungry developers, the sugar industry, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In 1994, at the age of 104, when she felt that the state was retreating from its commitment to restore the Everglades, and to the dismay of Florida legislators, she publicly demanded that her name be stricken from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas-Everglades Forever Act of 1994.
Douglas, who died in May at the age of 108, found beauty in unexpected places. She once wrote of the turkey vulture, "I never knew how beauty grew; From ugliness, until you flew . . . teach me how to go; Like you, to slip such carrion ties; And lift and lift to high, clean skies, Where winds and sun and silence ride, Like you, oh buzzard, glorified." She also found a beauty worth defending in the Everglades, one of the least hospitable regions on earth.
-- Ted Levin
Wilderness proponent and judicial crusader William O. Douglas spent 36 years as a justice of the Supreme Court. In a minority opinion involving a lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club to stop a proposed ski resort in what today is Sequoia National Park, he argued that "trees should have standing" to challenge ecological destruction. Douglas publicly opposed damming the Columbia River, in the Pacific Northwest, and he attacked the National Park Service for its plan to build communities in Yellowstone National Park. Among his books was A Wilderness Bill of Rights, published in 1965.
Microbiologist, educator, writer, and environmentalist René Dubos took his scientific fascination with the microscopic and infused it with his love for the planet. His research on microbes and soil biology led to the first commercially produced antibiotic, contributed to the development of penicillin, and enhanced his awareness of the relationship between people's environment and their health. Dubos was one of the first scientists to call attention to the effects of environmental hazards on children and frequently decried what he saw as our loss of humanistic biology and ecological sanity.
Calling the oceans "earth's life-support system," marine biologist Sylvia Earle is an eloquent spokeswoman on such marine- conservation issues as overfishing, pollution, and habitat loss. She has spent thousands of hours underwater, researching the ecology of oceans and developing technology for protecting the deep sea. In her book Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans, published in 1995, she wrote, "I want to share the exhilaration of discovery and convey a sense of urgency about the need for all of us to use our talents and resources to continue to explore the nature of this extraordinary ocean planet."
A professor of population studies and biology at Stanford University, Paul Ehrlich is best known for his efforts to focus public attention on the interrelationship of human population, resource exploitation, and the environment. His book The Population Bomb, which calls for controlled population growth and reduced consumption, caused a worldwide stir when it was published, in 1968. In 1996 he and his wife, Anne, wrote Betrayal of Science and Reason: How Anti-Environmental Rhetoric Threatens Our Future, which exposes misinformation about current environmental issues.
Dave Foreman is best known for founding the radical-activist environmental group Earth First! in 1980. During its heyday, which coincided with the Reagan presidency, Earth First! attracted international attention for allegedly advocating forms of eco-sabotage. With Foreman at the helm, it operated under the motto "No Compromise in Defense of Mother Earth." A former lobbyist for the Wilderness Society, Foreman believes conservationists must be more aggressive in using their political influence. He now oversees Wildlands Project, a group dedicated to preserving wildlife-migration corridors by linking patches of wilderness.
Through her studies of mountain gorillas in Rwanda and Zaire, American biologist Dian Fossey helped dispel many myths about the violent and aggressive nature of gorillas. Largely as a result of her work, mountain gorillas are now protected by the government of Rwanda. She was murdered in 1985 -- in retaliation, some believe, for her tireless efforts to stop the poaching of gorillas and other animals in Africa.
A master ornithological artist whose works inspired a generation of bird lovers and conservationists, Louis Agassiz Fuertes developed his passion early in life: As a youngster, he was often found poring over John James Audubon's Birds of America. Ornithologist Elliott Coues helped Fuertes obtain several commissions that led to his selection as illustrator for the children's field guide Citizen Bird, and for the next 25 years most bird paintings produced in the United States bore Fuertes's signature. As official artist to many biological expeditions, he documented species throughout the Americas, Europe, and Africa.
The geodesic dome, the signature invention of architect Buckminster Fuller, is the perfect icon for his theories of global ecology and simplicity. One of the most cost- effective structures ever designed, the geodesic dome exemplifies Fuller's concepts of synergy and dymaxion, the latter a principle for maximizing resources to improve standards of living. Fuller established the "Inventory of World Resources, Human Trends, and Needs," a compendium of decades' worth of research on population, renewable resources, poverty, and other environmental factors.
When Mono Lake, east of California's Sierra Nevada, was in danger of being drained to satisfy Los Angeles's water needs, most people assumed that the city would prevail and the lake would disappear. In this case, though, Goliath was challenged by David Gaines, who founded the Mono Lake Committee in 1978 to fight for the lake's legal protection. Although trained as a biologist, he became a spiritual leader in this struggle -- gentle but tenacious, eloquent and impassioned, inspiring followers to see the value of the intangible. Gaines died young, in a car accident, but Mono Lake lives -- and other inland waters have better protection -- because of his influence.
Lois Gibbs and her family were living near New York's Love Canal in the late 1970s, when the area was found to have been polluted by 20,000 tons of buried chemicals. Gibbs, then 27, led efforts to expose the site as a hazardous-waste dump and worked to relocate more than 800 local families. She subsequently founded the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice, a clearinghouse for community groups seeking information and assistance in fighting environmental threats. Her grassroots campaign imprinted the phrase toxic waste on the public consciousness and influenced the creation of the federal Superfund program.
As editor and publisher of Forest and Stream (later Field & Stream), George Bird Grinnell was an influential advocate for conservation. In 1886 his appeal to readers to join him in denouncing the indiscriminate slaughter of birds led to the formation of the first Audubon Society (which disbanded in 1888). He earned the title "Father of Glacier National Park" after lobbying for a decade to protect the area. Grinnell helped found several organizations, including the New York Zoological Society and the Boone and Crockett Club, an elite fellowship of big-game hunters and wildlife conservationists.
Denis Hayes has been an environmental lawyer in San Francisco, a professor of engineering at Stanford University, and director of the federal government's Solar Energy Research Institute during the Carter administration. But he is perhaps best known as coordinator of the first Earth Day, in 1970, an event often cited as the springboard for the environmental movement. He is currently president of the environmentally oriented Bullitt Foundation, which gives millions of dollars a year to community-based organizations. "If it has to do with the environment and it's located in the Pacific Northwest, we're probably involved with it," Hayes says.
A founding member of the legendary group of young Bronx, New York, birders -- including Roger Tory Peterson -- who revolutionized birdwatching, Joseph Hickey went on to eminence as a professor of ornithology. In 1965 he organized a seminar at the University of Wisconsin on the mystifying decline of the peregrine falcon. In establishing the destructive effect of DDT on wildlife populations, Hickey and his colleagues provided the evidence needed to ban the pesticide in the United States.
Thanks to William Hornaday, America still has bison. Alarmed because bison herds were dwindling, Hornaday helped acquire breeding stock for a program that contributed to the animal's recovery. Hornaday persuaded President Theodore Roosevelt and Congress to set aside several reserves, among them the 18,500-acre National Bison Range, in Montana. He was also influential in halting the hunting of fur seals and sea otters and was the founder and then a director of the New York Zoological Society.
Secretary of the interior in President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration, Harold Ickes wanted to move the Forest Service from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of the Interior. Although he ultimately failed in this venture, Ickes is credited with the creation of Kings Canyon National Park, in California, and with the expansion of the national park system to include Olympic National Park and Cape Hatteras National Seashore. He also headed the Public Works Administration.
Lady Bird Johnson, born Claudia Alta Taylor, was First Lady of the United States from 1963 to 1969. She spearheaded a campaign to clean up the nation's roadsides by removing litter and landscaping with native flora. Her idea became law in 1987, when the government required that federal highway funds be spent to plant native species. On her 70th birthday, in 1982, she founded the National Wildflower Research Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving and reestablishing the country's indigenous plants.
President Lyndon Johnson envisioned a "Great Society" where human enterprise and nature could be harnessed to produce a better life for Americans. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act of 1964, which protected millions of acres of public land. With Stewart Udall, his environmentally committed secretary of the interior, and George Hartzog, a crusading director of the National Park Service, the Johnson administration set the tone for the emerging Green Age of public land management. Legislation was passed to safeguard water, protect endangered species, and expand the national trails network, and nearly 60 new protected areas were added to the national park system.
For Robert Ketchum the camera is a weapon in the war to save embattled landscapes. For 30 years he has focused on the use and abuse of natural resources, and his visual exposés of human depredation have sparked direct action. His book The Tongass: Alaska's Vanishing Rainforest, for instance, helped move the Tongass timber-reform legislation through Congress and won Ketchum a place on the United Nations' environmental Roll of Honor in 1991.
In the late 1800s Paul Kroegel, a German immigrant and boatbuilder, was voluntarily protecting pelicans and other birds from poachers on Pelican Island, a three-acre speck of land off the Florida coast. He needed help; word got to Theodore Roosevelt, and on March 14, 1903, the president issued an executive order naming Pelican Island a "preserve and breeding ground for native birds." The decree marked the birth of the national wildlife refuge system, which now comprises more than 500 refuges and 93 million acres. The National Wildlife Refuge Association and the National Audubon Society have since established the Paul Kroegel Award, which honors outstanding dedication among refuge managers.
Fred Krupp, an authority on the relationship between nature and human health, is executive director of the Environmental Defense Fund and has been an adviser to Presidents Bush and Clinton. He was instrumental in the passage of the 1990 Clean Air Act and helped initiate a successful solid-waste-reduction plan for McDonalds. He is now working on a plan to give credits to companies that reduce their output of greenhouse gases.
A Native American activist and writer who founded the White Earth Recovery Land Project, Winona LaDuke helped defeat a proposed hydroelectric project on James Bay in northern Canada. A Harvard University graduate who once worked as a high school principal, LaDuke has crusaded extensively for indigenous rights. She is a board member of Greenpeace USA and head of the Seventh Generation Fund's Environmental Program, and she ran for vice-president on the Green Party's ticket in 1996.
He suggested that humans are part of an interdependent natural community and gave environmentalism its philosophical underpinning.
In 1948 Aldo Leopold suffered a fatal heart attack while fighting a fire on his Wisconsin pine plantation. His most enduring work, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There, had not yet been published, but Leopold, a renowned game-management specialist and former Forest Service forester, had already distinguished himself as an environmental pioneer. He had been trained at the Yale Forest School in the utilitarian principles of Gifford Pinchot-style conservation, but in an article in the November 1921 Journal of Forestry, he startled his colleagues by questioning the traditional notion that "the policy of development . . . should continue to govern in absolutely every instance." Wasn't it possible, he asked, that "the principle of highest use" demanded that "representative portions of some forests be preserved as wilderness?"
In 1924, when Leopold was stationed in New Mexico, he persuaded his superiors to designate 500,000 acres of the state's national-forest land as the Gila Wilderness, the first designated wilderness area in American history. In 1935 he and Robert Marshall founded the Wilderness Society, which was instrumental in the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964 and in the subsequent growth of the national wilderness system to more than 104 million acres. Still, it is A Sand County Almanac, published in 1949, that gives Leopold immortality. An essay called "The Land Ethic," which is grafted onto a collection of artful and often wise seasonal observations, contains the philosophical heart of 20th-century environmentalism.
Its thesis, like most great ideas, is simply stated: "All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts.... The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.... In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from that of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it." These words made Leopold's book a sacred text, at least for a movement hoping to achieve a moral universe that includes the needs of the land in its system of values.
-- T. H. Watkins
As the editor of Audubon for 25 years, beginning in 1966, Les Line introduced a generation of readers to natural history and environmental issues. During Line's tenure, Roger Tory Peterson called Audubon "not only the most beautiful natural history magazine in the world, but the most beautiful magazine of any sort in the English language." The New York Times noted: "For all its esthetic quality Audubon magazine is in no way escapist. Along with the beauty of the Earth, it portrays the dangers."
Wildlife biologist Curt Mack has been instrumental in a number of attempts to reintroduce endangered or threatened species to their native lands in Idaho. Among his success stories are the repopulation of the Clearwater River with otters and the recent release of gray wolves in central Idaho. He's currently the gray-wolf-recovery coordinator for the Nez Perce tribe and is working for the reintroduction of grizzly bears in the Bitterroot Mountains, along the Idaho-Montana border.
A cofounder of the Wilderness Society in 1935, Benton MacKaye spent most of his life in the federal government. He worked first at the U.S. Forest Service under Gifford Pinchot and then later as a planner for the Tennessee Valley Authority. He is credited with planting the seed for the 2,000-mile-long Appalachian Trail, which runs from Georgia to Maine, and he championed walking the trail as a way to regenerate and revive the human spirit.
Bob Marshall, who helped found the Wilderness Society in 1935, was a charismatic figure in the environmental movement. A Forest Service colleague of Aldo Leopold's, he was a prodigious hiker, sometimes covering 70 miles in a day. His 1930 article "The Problem of the Wilderness," which appeared in Scientific Monthly, was a seminal work in the formulation of a coherent national wilderness doctrine. "How many wilderness areas do we need?" Marshall was once asked. He replied, "How many Brahms symphonies do we need?"
Stephen Mather was a wealthy businessman whose arduous hiking trips in the West opened his eyes to the deteriorating conditions of the national parks. His complaints to Washington elicited an invitation from Franklin K. Lane, secretary of the interior under Woodrow Wilson, to "run them yourself." Beginning in 1916 with his appointment as director of the newly organized National Park Service, Mather upgraded the condition of the parks and vigorously promoted their use.
A botanical artist and early critic of rainforest destruction, Margaret Mee made the first of her 15 forays into Brazil's Amazonian forest at the age of 46. She spent more than three decades creating an unparalleled record of the rainforest, chronicling its plant life and discovering several species, some of which now bear her name. With each expedition, Mee witnessed the disappearance of more habitat, which led her to protest the forest policies of Brazil's military dictatorship.
In the 1980s, Chico Mendes helped organize a union of his fellow rubber tappers, whose traditional way of life was being jeopardized by the destruction of the Brazilian rainforest. They demanded social justice, agrarian reform, and the creation of "extraction reserves" -- protected areas to be sustainably managed by local communities. Under Mendes's leadership, the union gained international support for its struggle and the enmity of the cattle ranchers who were clearing the forests. Mendes was murdered by local landowners in 1988; in the following decade, Brazil set aside nine extraction reserves covering more than 5 million acres of rainforest.
A professor of biology at the State University of New York at New Paltz, Heinz Meng is best known for his groundbreaking work to save the peregrine falcon from the brink of extinction. By the early 1970s peregrines had vanished from the eastern United States and Canada, in large part because of DDT. An avid falconer and ornithologist, Meng was the first to successfully breed the avian predators in captivity and reintroduce them to the wild.
In the summer of 1871, Thomas Moran, a virtually unknown painter, was asked to join a government expedition to survey "the place where Hell bubbled up." His spectacular landscapes introduced Yellowstone to the imagination of the American public, and it was officially set aside for preservation as the first national park. Moran's prolific creation of western imagery -- including paintings of the Colorado Rockies, the Grand Tetons, and the Southwestern desert -- are now seen as emblems of the conflict between America's westward expansion and a sacred natural landscape.
A founder of the Sierra Club, he campaigned to establish the park at Yosemite, and his efforts vastly expanded the national forest system.
Born in Scotland and reared as a farmer's son in the sandy, reluctant soils of Wisconsin, John Muir was a largely self-taught naturalist and writer who loved nothing more than to vanish into the wilderness at every opportunity. He became infatuated with California's Yosemite Valley and the surrounding mountains, and this fascination inspired him to conduct -- with the aid of Century magazine's editor, Robert Underwood Johnson -- a publicity and legislative campaign that helped establish Yosemite National Park in 1890. (Another such campaign added the valley itself to the park in 1905.) In 1892 Muir, Johnson, and a San Francisco attorney named William Colby founded the Sierra Club, to "enlist the support and cooperation of the people and the government in preserving the forests and other natural features of the Sierra Nevada Mountains."
Muir served on the Forestry Commission of 1896, which recommended that President Grover Cleveland enlarge the embryonic national forest system by some 21 million acres. Cleveland did so, but in 1898 timber and livestock interests pushed Congress to repeal the designations. The effort succeeded in the Senate but failed in the House. Charles Sprague Sargent, a Harvard botanist and head of the 1896 commission, gave much of the credit to Muir and his barrage of letters and public statements.
In 1903 Muir spent a night under Yosemite's stars with President Theodore Roosevelt, and it is likely that his incessant proselytizing then and later helped persuade Roosevelt to establish the U.S. Forest Service in 1905 -- and before leaving office, to add 148 million acres to the national forest system. Muir could not save his beloved Hetch Hetchy Valley, a portion of Yosemite National Park that was sacrificed to the water needs of San Francisco in 1913, but his vociferous and nationally publicized arguments against the dam that ultimately killed the valley provided ammunition for passage of the National Park Organic Act in 1916, two years after his death. The act protects the national parks against utilitarian development and so far has never been breached. Because of the passion of his convictions -- as well as the durability of the organization he helped create -- Muir remains the spiritual father of the wilderness-preservation movement.
-- T. H. Watkins
Raised in Alaska and spiritually nourished in the wilderness, Mardy Murie has lived for more than 70 years in the Rocky Mountains, near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Her books -- among them Two in the Far North -- inspired several generations of wilderness lovers, and she pioneered new concepts in environmental education with the Teton Science School. Her husband, Olaus, was a longtime director and president of the Wilderness Society; she has served on its governing council since 1977.
Former U.S. senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin made conservation a priority. His most notable achievements include founding Earth Day, in 1970, sponsoring the 1964 Wilderness Act, and writing the legislation that preserved the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail. He also introduced in Congress the first bills to control strip-mining, ban the use of DDT, and require fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles.
A child psychologist who, with no formal training, became a distinguished ornithologist, Margaret Nice is remembered primarily for her landmark study of the life history of song sparrows. A fellow of the American Ornithologists' Union and the first female president of the Wilson Ornithological Club, she spoke out on numerous environmental issues, particularly the unrestricted use of pesticides, the misuse of wildlife refuges, dam building in Dinosaur National Monument, and the development of the Indiana Dunes.
"What a strange creature is man that he fouls his own nest," Richard Nixon once said. Much landmark environmental legislation was signed by Nixon, 37th president of the United States. Prompted by the public's growing awareness of ecological problems and by a handful of advisers, Nixon helped establish the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. He also signed into law the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and legislation creating the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Conservationists like Patrick Noonan set the standard for greener economies. Dedicated to preserving nature, protecting resources, and cleaning up pollution, Noonan is the chairman of the Conservation Fund and a board member of International Paper. "We are developing a common language that acknowledges both environmental and economic goals -- a first step in a new dialogue," Noonan has said. "By integrating these goals, we will benefit from a common agenda and more efficient protection of the world's environment."
New York City's Central Park, Jackson Park in Chicago, Boston's Arnold Arboretum, and dozens of other beautiful public spaces owe their existence to the vision of Frederick Law Olmsted, the founder of modern landscape architecture. Thanks to Olmsted's efforts and those of his partner, Calvert Vaux, millions of people have access to places that provide pastoral relief from the stress of city life. Although constant conflict with politicians hindered his work, his designs alone are some of the world's finest examples of bringing nature to an urban environment.
A biologist and wilderness guide, Sigurd Olson was president of both the Wilderness Society and the National Parks Association. But his crowning achievement was the preservation of his beloved Boundary Waters Canoe Area, on the U.S.-Canadian border. Olson's philosophical reflections on what he called "the all-engulfing silence of wilderness" created a cult of readers for his work.
Benefactor of the largest private prairie-sanctuary system in the world, encompassing 54,000 acres of grasslands in five midwestern states, Katharine Ordway was among the first to recognize the importance of saving prairies. In 1959, at the age of 60, Ordway -- a biologist, art collector, and heiress to the 3M Company fortune -- set up the Goodhill Foundation. By the time the foundation was dissolved, in 1984, Ordway had donated more than $64 million to conservation causes. Her contributions to the Nature Conservancy are credited with making that group a major force in land preservation.
An artist, conservationist, and founder of Friends of the Sea Otter, Margaret Owings has long fought to protect the threatened California sea otter and its marine habitat. In 1962, after a cougar was killed for bounty near her home, in Big Sur, California, Owings waged battles to abolish both bounty and sport hunting of cougars in the state. She also played crucial roles in preserving a stretch of coastline at Point Lobos and in preventing construction of a freeway through Redwood National Park.
David Packard, cofounder of Hewlett-Packard, was also an avid outdoorsman and environmentalist. He founded the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute to develop new technologies for undersea exploration. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, with a net worth of $9 billion, funds conservation efforts ranging from lowering birth rates to studying and protecting forest and ocean habitat, with a particular focus on California, Mexico, Hawaii, and the Pacific Ocean.
A pioneer in the science of freshwater ecosystems, Ruth Patrick has studied American waterways for more than 50 years. She established the principle that an ecosystem's biological diversity reflects its overall condition. Her research on communities of aquatic organisms and their role in the health of estuaries became a model for determining the impact of pollution and industrialization on rivers and streams. A winner of the National Medal of Science and environmental adviser to several presidents, Patrick is currently at work on a six-volume study of the rivers of the United States.
In the early 1900s Pearson founded the Audubon Society of North Carolina. From 1910 to 1934 he served as executive officer and then president of the National Association of Audubon Societies, which later became the National Audubon Society. As a powerful public speaker, an inventive fund-raiser, and a skilled manager, he put the early Audubon movement on sound footing and made it into a strong voice for bird conservation.
Director of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology from 1960 until his retirement in 1973, Sewall Pettingill contributed mightily to the conservation of birds. His articles and books sent birdwatchers into out-of-the-way hot spots, while his widely used laboratory manual prepared students for careers in ornithology. The films about birds he made and showed as part of the Audubon Screen Tours after World War II brought the conservation message to thousands of people across the nation.
A man of many talents, he set the standard for the modern field guide, and he loved inspiring others to take notice of the natural world.
Roger Tory Peterson's first real job was as a schoolteacher, and although he soon abandoned the classroom, he never stopped teaching. He displayed many talents over the years -- as a painter, photographer, writer, lecturer, explorer, and expert naturalist -- but when asked to define himself, he said he was an educator.
When young Roger was learning to identify birds, the guidebooks were either weighty tomes that gave far too much information or breezy booklets that gave too little. Peterson imagined something in between: a compact book that presented only the key field marks of each species, depicted in diagrammatic drawings. Publishers were wary of this approach, but finally, in 1934, Houghton Mifflin cautiously printed 2,000 copies. The print run sold out in two weeks. In the 64 years since, Peterson's Field Guide to the Birds has never been out of print.
Simplicity was the key to Peterson's system. He believed that recognition of species should not be the realm of just the scientist or the specialist. The nascent hobby of birdwatching gained a tremendous boost from Peterson's guide as tens of thousands of readers discovered that they could name the birds they saw.
After the success of his first field guide, Peterson became the education director for the National Audubon Society and the art editor for Audubon magazine. Later, he was the art director for the National Wildlife Federation, then struck out on his own. As a freelancer, he wrote or co-wrote five more field guides and numerous other books and articles, created hundreds of paintings, and photographed and filmed birds all over the world. His first bird guide eventually sold several million copies and became the model for a series of more than 40 other guidebooks that covered everything from beetles to weather. The Peterson field guides (along with the many imitators that followed) have been credited with helping create the climate of nature appreciation that sparked the environmental movement.
Throughout his career, and through the many honors he received, Peterson remained a modest, gentle individual with a passion for nature. He seemed to gain his greatest satisfaction from inspiring beginners to take notice of the natural world.
-- Kenn Kaufman
As the first chief of the Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot applied the latest European techniques to managing U.S. forests. Under his friend President Theodore Roosevelt, Pinchot, who pioneered the "wise use" of resources, oversaw the transfer of huge tracts of public land to the national forests.
One of the founders of the Nature Conservancy, Richard Pough was its president when it made its first land purchase, in 1955. The methods he developed to finance that purchase served as a model for later acquisitions. Pough also worked for several other conservation groups, including Audubon. His early focus on the importance of saving whole ecosystems, not just individual species, was an approach that has since become widely accepted. He also wrote the three-volume Audubon Bird Guides.
Through a long and distinguished career as a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chandler Robbins has led the effort to monitor populations of nongame birds. He established the Breeding Bird Survey, which has tracked population trends of birds throughout North America since the 1960s, providing essential data for conservation decisions. After the survey revealed that many migratory songbirds were in decline, Robbins began researching the status of their habitat in the tropics.
A passion for natural beauty fueled his desire for preservation, and his philanthropy spread across the continent.
Three-quarters of a century ago John D. Rockefeller Jr., son of the founder of Standard Oil, took a trip with his family to Wyoming's jagged Teton Mountains, which rise above the dell of Jackson Hole. He fell in love with the valley.
Back in the 1920s, only a portion of the Tetons was protected. But Rockefeller's guide, Yellowstone National Park superintendent Horace Albright, dreamed of protecting the beauty of Jackson Hole forever. Rockefeller decided to establish a front company, the Snake River Land Company, to buy up land in the area. (He feared that word of his involvement would inflate land values.) His agents told locals, who opposed expansion of Grand Teton National Park, that the buyer merely wanted to protect elk habitat. Indeed, when Rockefeller's involvement leaked out, there were charges of a government conspiracy and rich outsiders trying to lock up the land for their own purposes.
One person who opposed designation of the valley as a national park was Clifford Hansen, then a state legislator, who went on to become governor of Wyoming and a U.S. senator. Today, Hansen concedes that he was wrong. "I think the national park is the best thing that could have happened to this valley," he says. "And it probably wouldn't have happened without Rockefeller money."
In 1943 Rockefeller donated 33,000 acres to the national park system; his family still owns a secluded ranch on the shores of Phelps Lake, within the park. Today, his efforts to preserve the Tetons are recognized as one of the most notable conservation victories of this century; the highway connecting Grand Teton National Park with Yellowstone National Park is called the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway.
The Tetons were just one of Rockefeller's philanthropic preservation measures. He was also involved in protecting and revitalizing Colonial Williamsburg, in Virginia; creating Acadia National Park, in Maine; financing a feasibility study for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in North Carolina; helping found Shenandoah National Park, in Virginia; and creating Virgin Islands National Park, on the island of St. John.
Since Rockefeller's death, in 1960, the tradition of supporting conservation has been carried on chiefly by his son Laurance, whose charitable work with the Rockefeller Foundation includes efforts to save the upper Beaverkill River, in New York. He and his wife, Mary, recently donated their summer home in Woodstock, Vermont, to the National Park Service (see Field Notes, page 28). It has now become the state's first national park.
-- Todd Wilkinson
The son of the founder of Rodale Press, J. I. Rodale, and publisher of Organic Gardening, Robert Rodale worked to develop and popularize organic and sustainable methods of farming and gardening, adding scientific legitimacy to what was a revolutionary concept when it was introduced by his father. He pioneered methods of producing crops with optimum yields while maintaining or improving the quality of the soil.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt left his mark on the American landscape with the New Deal and the Civilian Conservation Corps. In the mid-1930s his administration created the Soil Conservation Service to combat dust storms, invested more than $2 billion to keep struggling independent farmers on their land, and used the Antiquities Act to designate more than 2 million acres of land as natural monuments.
An avid camper and hiker, he wanted to conserve nature for the sake of people; he also created the national wildlife refuge system.
The conservation of our natural resources and their proper use constitute the fundamental problem which underlies almost every other problem of our National life," Theodore Roosevelt declared to Congress in 1907. As president for the first eight years of this century, Roosevelt did not just talk about conservation from his bully pulpit. He threw the full weight of his office behind conservation, and he put the issue at the top of the country's agenda.
Beginning with Pelican Island in eastern Florida, T. R. created the national wildlife refuge system, which included 51 biologically significant sites by the time he left office. He expanded the national forests from 42 million acres to 172 million and preserved 18 areas as national monuments, including the Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest. It gave him immense satisfaction to know that "these bits of the old wilderness scenery and the old wilderness life [were] to be kept unspoiled for the benefit of our children's children." Roosevelt was an avid camper and hiker. Yet he conserved not for nature's sake, though he thought that a worthwhile goal, but for people's. He reminded everyone who would listen that restricting grazing and logging on steep slopes protected watersheds, which provided drinking and irrigation water and flood control. The national forests, to his mind, preserved trees less for their beauty than to ensure a stable supply of lumber for home building.
As Senator Robert La Follette of Wisconsin said of Roosevelt in the twilight of his presidency, "His greatest work was actually beginning a world movement for staying terrestrial waste and saving for the human race the things upon which alone a great and peaceful and progressive and happy race can be founded."
-- David Seideman
A scientist and author of the acclaimed book Song for the Blue Ocean, Carl Safina pushed legislation to protect endangered marine life and make fisheries sustainable. Serving as an adviser to U.S. and international fishery panels, he helped bolster the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act. A contributing editor to Audubon, he recently brought attention to declining populations of shark, swordfish, and bluefin tuna. Since 1979 Safina has worked for the National Audubon Society, where he founded, and still directs, the Living Oceans Program.
The president of the Nature Conservancy -- an organization that has protected more than 10 million acres of threatened ecosystems and critical wildlife habitat in the United States, Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific -- John Sawhill is also a world authority on energy and energy-related issues. He has served in three presidential administrations and has been a director of several energy companies.
Beginning in the 1930s, Paul Schaefer became one of the most tenacious defenders of wilderness in New York's 6-million-acre Adirondack Park. During the next quarter-century, he led successful campaigns against projects that would have inlaid the park's forests with as many as 38 reservoirs, plus their attendant dams, roads, and support structures.
Field biologist George Schaller is the author of dozens of articles and books about nature, including The Last Panda and Tibet's Hidden Wilderness. Through his writing and his work as director of science at the Wildlife Conservation Society, he has informed the public about the last great wilderness areas, the animals that live there, and how to protect them. His work helped persuade the Chinese government to set aside 25 percent of Tibet's land as a nature reserve.
A Harvard University dropout who rode the rails across the country to meet musicians such as Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger is one of the most influential folk artists in the United States. A resident of Beacon, New York, he became concerned about the condition of the nearby Hudson River. He joined with others in making a Hudson River sloop, the Clearwater, into a floating environmental organization that is instrumental in the ongoing cleanup of the river. Each year nearly 20,000 onboard visitors learn about history, biology, and environmental science.
Michael Soulé is widely considered to be the father of conservation biology. Armed with tools such as genetics and ecology, Soulé says that his mission is to restore wildness and to eradicate habitat fragmentation. At the heart of his plan lies the Wildlands Project, a group he helped found with the goal of restoring wilderness to as much as 50 percent of North America.
A novelist and conservationist, Wallace Stegner wrote 30 books, and he won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for fiction. This is Dinosaur, which he edited, helped block proposed dams on the Upper Colo- rado River in 1955. His famous "Wilderness Letter," on the necessity of protecting wild places, was quoted in the 1964 bill establishing the national wilderness-preservation system; it became a manifesto for the conservation movement. Called the dean of western writers, Stegner was active in the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society and served as an assistant to Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall.
A preeminent tropical ecologist and an authority on New World primates and birds, John Terborgh is the director of Duke University's Center for Tropical Conservation. In 1989 Terborgh wrote Where Have All the Birds Gone?, a landmark book that publicized the plight of migratory birds in the neotropics. Terborgh received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1992.
In 1989 cable-television-station owner Ted Turner started his acquisition of 1.3 million acres of ranchland in the West and replaced its cattle with native buffalo. He plans to reintroduce imperiled species to several of his properties. As a free-market environmentalist, he aims to show that the private sector can accomplish what the government cannot. The Turner Foundation -- endowed with earnings from Turner's Cable News Network and its acquisition by Time Warner -- gives away tens of millions of dollars each year to grassroots conservation efforts.
Brothers Stewart and Morris Udall fought tirelessly to end the destructive development of natural resources. During Stewart Udall's tenure as secretary of the interior, from 1961 to 1969, the United States created the national wilderness, national trails, and wild-and-scenic-rivers systems. Udall played a key role in trying to reform the 1872 Mining Law and in establishing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses royalties collected from offshore oil drilling to buy important land. Senator Morris Udall of Arizona, who chaired the powerful Interior Committee, was a major force in pushing through the Alaska Lands Act and the Surface Mining Reclamation Act.
Edgar Wayburn, a five-term president of the Sierra Club, campaigned in 1949 to enlarge Mount Tamalpais Park, in Marin County, California, from 870 to 6,300 acres. He and his wife, Peggy, also helped establish Point Reyes National Seashore in 1962, Golden Gate National Recreation Area in 1972, and Redwood National Park in 1968 (which was expanded to 110,000 acres in 1978). They also helped pass the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980, which protects 104 million acres of wilderness, national parks, and national wildlife refuges.
An influential theorist, he focused his attention on biological diversity, saying that flora and fauna should be seen as part of our heritage.
Most scientists would be delighted to enjoy a small piece of Edward O. Wilson's success. For that matter, so would most environmental activists and writers. A professor emeritus at Harvard University, Wilson is best known among environmentalists as one of the world's most credible advocates of protecting the planet's biodiversity. Among his fellow biologists, he is also known as an eclectic and influential theorist. And among an even smaller group of specialists, he is renowned as an authority on a single family of insects: ants.
In the 1960s Wilson and ecologist Robert MacArthur articulated what they called the theory of island biogeography. Based on studies of species extinction on islands, the theory proposed that smaller islands support a dramatically lesser diversity of species than larger ones. That work led directly to a growing realization among biologists that national parks, refuges, and other wild habitats were increasingly becoming isolated "islands" and that true conservation required larger, less fragmented parcels of wild habitat. In the 1970s, in his book Sociobiology, Wilson offered ideas about the relationship between evolution and behavior -- and found himself embroiled in controversy for proposing that human behavior (including gender roles) was influenced more by genes than by culture.
Even as a boy, Wilson felt driven to study nature. He might have turned to ornithology, but he had been blinded in one eye by the dorsal spine of a small fish he had taken from the water. As he was also a bit hard of hearing, he proved to be, as he said, "a wretched birdwatcher." And so he turned to insects -- "not by any touch of idiosyncratic genius but by a fortuitous constriction of physiological ability."
In the 1980s Wilson focused his attention on the protection of biological diversity. Winner of the 1995 Audubon Medal for his service to conservation, he has written and spoken out vigorously for the preservation of nature. An optimist even in the face of crisis, he predicts that a day will come when "the flora and fauna of a country will be thought part of the national heritage as important as its art, its language, and that astonishing blend of achievement and farce that has always defined our species."
-- Jon R. Luoma
Hazel Wolf has founded more than 20 chapters of the National Audubon Society, including the Seattle chapter to which she now belongs. She cofounded the Community Coalition for Environmental Justice, through which she works to improve environmental safety in low-income, inner-city housing. She has received more than a dozen conservation awards, including the 1997 Audubon Medal.
Robert Yard was an aide-de-camp to Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, and was also the agency's first chief of education and publicity. A strict preservationist, he believed that national parks should be maintained as primeval wildernesses. Yard cofounded the National Parks Association (now the National Parks and Conservation Association) and the Wilderness Society.
As executive secretary and spokesman for the Wilderness Society, Howard Zahniser led the eight-year struggle for passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964. In bitter opposition were the powerful ranching, mining, and logging interests, and even government resource agencies. Zahniser's vision is incorporated in the act that he wrote: "Wilderness . . . is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain." A
Contributors: Chris Chang, Frank Graham Jr., Kenn Kaufman, Yi Shun Lai, Ted Levin, Jon R. Luoma, Gretel Schueller, David Seideman, Carolyn Shea, and Todd Wilkinson
|Home||Previous: Return to the Wild||Next: The Dawn of Conservation|