Sunday, July 10, 2005

An Early Woman Conservationist

I had an interesting conversation this morning with my friend Deborah about her grandmother, Rosalie Barrow Edge, founder of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. Apparently Rosalie became concerned about the welfare of migrating hawks in the Pennsylvania mountains during the early 1900's. Hunters were felling them as fast as they flew into the area. She enlisted the help of friends to purchase a huge tract of land that became Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.

I now understand where Deborah gets her commanding presence. Rosalie sounds like a powerful woman, well before most women had power. She grew up in a family with money, but not too much money. Once when she and her sister were going to a dance, they only could afford to buy one pair of long gloves, so they split the pair and each carried one over their arm. Another time when she was traveling on a train, she inquired of the woman next to her what her husband did for a living, to which the woman replied, “He is the President of the United States.” The woman was Eleanor Roosevelt. Rosalie is quoted as saying, “Telling the truth is not necessary to a good story.” She was not a saint.

Rosalie Edge was declared to be one of the five leading conservationists of the 20th century, along with people like Rachel Carson. Her bird sanctuary is alive and well today, sponsoring visiting conservationists from all over the world and spreading the word about saving the birds of the world. What a wonderful legacy for my friend Deborah to have!

Here are a couple of interesting links:
http://www.ecotopia.org/ehof/edge/index.html
http://www.hawkmountain.org/default.shtml

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