Unsung Heroes: Women in Conservation – Margaret “Mardy” Murie (August 18, 1902 – October 19, 2003)

Unknown Photograph, TreeHugger.com

Source material is here.

Margaret “Mardy” Murie began her conservation work on her honeymoon in 1924 – her husband Olaus was a biologist and they spent their first days together as a married couple traveling 500 miles by boat and dogsled to study caribou. In 1927, the Muries moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where Olaus had been assigned by the US Bureau of Biological Survey (the forerunner of today’s Fish and Wildlife Services). While there, Mardy helped her husband campaign to protect the Brooks Range, and in 1956, they asked Supreme Court Justice William Douglas to persuade Eisenhower to set aside 8 million acres of land in Alaska; he did so and the Arctic National Wildlife Range (now known as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) was created. After Olaus died, Mardy returned to Alaska to survey land for the National Park Service and her research was instrumental to the creation of the National Interest Lands Conservation Act; signed into law by President Carter in 1980, this act set aside 104 million acres in Alaska, which doubled the size of the Wildlife Refuge. In 1998, she won the Presidential Medal of Freedom and in 2002 she was named Conservationist of The Year by the National Wildlife Federation. Though she lived much of her life in her husband’s shadow, this award proved that she made a name for herself as a woman who wanted to preserve the land she loved so dearly.

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