“The time to protect a species is while it is still common”Rosalie Barrow Edge

“The time to protect a species is while it is still common,” Rosalie Barrow Edge, 1877–1962; Photo credit: HawkMountain.org

Women’s history month is celebrated each March. From ocean shores to mountain peaks, the world has never been lacking for women explorers and advocates for nature. At Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife we recognize the historical reality and the current influence of women as conservation and outdoor recreation advocates and leaders. With female participation in fishing, hunting and conservation rising across the nation — and seen in our own data — we want to thank all the conservation advocates and mentors who have conserved and still conserve nature. There are some things inarguably beneficial to our world. Recognizing the role people have played to #ConserveWashington, and our natural world is high on the list.

Below are just a few leaders that come to mind as notable stewards. We hope these stories inspire you to learn more and get involved in conservation opportunities here in Washington.

Rosalie Edge was a suffragist and advocate for the preservation of birds. In 1934 she founded the first preserve for birds of prey at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in the Appalachian Mountains and she led campaigns to protect Olympic and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Today, one of the ways Washington residents are continuing Edge’s work is through the rehabilitation centers that help injured raptors heal and return to the wild — including Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue and the raptor center at PAWS. Learn more about how you can support the rehabilitation centers making a difference in conservation.

“The time to protect a species is while it is still common.” — Rosalie Barrow Edge

Rachel Carson 1907–1954, Photo credit: USFWS

Rachel Carson is most famous for her book Silent Spring, in which she bared the sins of the pesticide industry. In her later writings, the author and activist continued to examine the relationship between people and nature, questioning whether human beings are truly the dominant authority. Needless to say, she was an outspoken advocate for the environment and one of the greatest social revolutionaries of her time.

While society continues its work toward pollution-free spaces, one small way that you can further Carson’s work here in Washington, is by training in advance to become a volunteer in the event of an oil spill. When such occurrences happen, volunteers play a significant role in our ability to save many birds and mammals.

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” — Rachel Carson

Celia Hunter, 1919–2001, Photo credit: The Wilderness Society

Celia Hunter fought alongside Mardy and Olaus Murie to safeguard the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and became the first female president of a national conservation organization — The Wilderness Society. She played a major role in the passage of legislation that protected over 100 million acres in Alaska. On her dying day she wrote a letter to Congress urging the protection of the Arctic Refuge from oil drilling.

Like Hunter, we work to secure public lands by purchasing properties from willing landowners to provide key habitat for fish and wildlife species and support outdoor recreation here in Washington. Please take a moment to lean about this year’s candidates.

“You can’t have it both ways. Either you respect the wilderness quality of the environment and write it into law or you denigrate the condition of pristine nature and place the need for oil uppermost on your scale of values.” — Celia Hunter, Testimony before Joint oversight hearing on Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, November 17, 1987.

International Women for Wilderness

Each year on March 8 countries all around the world celebrate International Women’s Day, a focal point for women’s rights, that has long historical roots back to the struggle for women’s vote in countries around the world, starting in the early 1900s.

Wangari Maathai, Photo source: Greenbeltmovement.org

Wangari Maathai (1940–2011) famously fought the Kenyan government to protect wilderness, and started the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, responsible for planting 51 million trees and empowering women across the country to protect nature. She also was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Wangari is not alone in believing that individuals have the significant ability to affect change. Washington landowners are empowered to participate in habitat restoration programs ranging from shoreline restoration to conserving habitat on working lands and farms.

“Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system.” — Wangari Maathai.

Dian Fossey, Photo source: Gorillafund.org

Dian Fossey (1932–1985) lived with mountain gorillas in the mountains of Rwanda, opening a world to us to understand the personalities, family relationships and structures of gorilla society, as well as acting as a tough anti-poaching and anti-illegal wildlife trade advocate, who was found murdered in 1985.

Every day our enforcement officers work to stop the illegal trafficking of local and international animals. One way you can honor Fossey’s memory is to become more informed about this continuing challenge by learning more about the world’s ten most illegally traded endangered species.

“When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future.” — Dian Fossey

Jane Goodall, age 86 is still advocating to support research and protection on behalf of another primate species: the chimpanzee — from science to advocacy to children’s books and film.

Our habitat, wildlife, and fish science divisions build on the scientific work of those who came before them by contributing to the world’s understanding of local species and ecology. Explore how scientists are contributing through published research articles, many of which become internationally acclaimed and are available on our website, here in Washington.

“The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves. “ — Jane Goodall

Want to learn more, The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership recently highlighted Eight Women Who Have Shaped Conservation.

Sources for this information — and more great information on this topic:
* https://www.ecowatch.com/11-amazing-women-who-made-wilderness-conservation-history-1881880059.html
* https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Rachel_Carson/about/rachelcarson.html
* https://www.nrdc.org/stories/story-silent-spring
* https://www.wilderness.org/articles/article/11-women-who-made-wilderness-history
* https://www.trcp.org/2020/06/26/eight-sportswomen-shaped-conservation/
* https://www.hawkmountain.org/
* https://www.greenbeltmovement.org/node/478
* https://www.grandmotherscouncil.org/
* https://gorillafund.org/who-we-are/
* https://www.janegoodall.org/
* https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/news-centre/speeches/2021/international-womens-day-2021.html

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.

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