As Audubon’s staff was putting the final touches on this issue, we received some good news. The American Society of Magazine Editors, for the first time in 14 years, has named our magazine as a finalist in the general excellence category. This annual award, the magazine industry’s equivalent of an Oscar for best picture, puts Audubon in such esteemed company this year as fellow finalists New York and The Atlantic Monthly. The three 2006 issues Audubon submitted included our cover story on how a Texas Audubon center, Mitchell Lake, helped transform a sewage dump into a haven for birds and other wildlife (March-April); our special issue linking Hurricane Katrina to tche need to restore “America’s River,” the Mississippi (May-June); and our global warming package featuring a haunting photo essay of Greenland melting and a practical home energy savings guide (September-October).
If there’s a common theme running through these issues, it’s the importance of striking a balance between hope and despair, no mean feat these days when dealing with seemingly intractable environmental issues. In “The Orchid Keepers,” Janet Marinelli describes how even as we’ve plowed up and paved over 98 percent of America’s native prairie, a dedicated band of volunteers outside Chicago endures heat and humidity each summer to rescue the beautiful eastern prairie white-fringed orchid from oblivion. Jesse Greenspan documents how an unusual and powerful coalition of environmental, labor, and industry leaders is banding together to revive Long Island Sound, one of the nation’s most vital estuaries, which for decades has been treated as little more than a sewer (“Sound Check”). In “Back Off!” Ted Williams celebrates the comeback of embattled Rocky Mountain gray wolves—“coursing over frozen lakes, silhouetted on ridgetops, singing under stars unblemished by ambient light, making the wild, beautiful land I own with all Americans even wilder and more beautiful”—even as certain political elements in Wyoming and Idaho are once again taking aim at these majestic predators.
In this fiercely competitive age of the Internet, so called “dead-tree” media is fighting to retain its readership. One theory holds that “niche” publications that foster a sense of community, like Audubon’s tribe of nature enthusiasts, stand a fair chance of holding their own or even growing. With so much at stake for our planet, the support you’ve shown will spur us to do our part as best we can.—David Seideman