Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rosalie Edge, Hawk of Mercy

I’ve just finished reading a rather remarkable book: "Rosalie Edge, Hawk of Mercy" by Dyana Z. Furmansky. I was introduced to Ms. Furmansky when she delivered a lecture at DVOC, Delaware Valley Ornithological Club, in the spring. She had her book available for sale at that event.

Most of us from this general Delaware Valley area are familiar with the name “Rosalie Edge” from visits to Hawk Mountain. We know that she helped to stop the slaughter of migrating hawks at that site, and to ultimately purchase the mountaintop and establish the sanctuary which thousands visit in the autumn.

But how many of us know that she, married to a wealthy businessman, began her activism as a suffragette in the late 1920s? And that, as founder of ECC, she took on “Big Conservation”, including the National Audubon Society, and forced it to stop cozying up to commercial logging and firearms interests and get to work protecting America’s natural environment, wilderness and wildlife.

For many years it was an uphill battle, but Edge was equal to the task and was successful not only at Hawk Mountain, but also successful in safeguarding old growth pines and sequoias at King’s Canyon and Olympic Peninsula in the American West, both of which, through her tireless efforts, became national parks.

A success story.

But, as David Rains Wallace wrote on the dust jacket of Rosalie Edge, “Today, after two decades of reckless economic growth during which “Big Environment” has often seemed more interested in promoting squishy abstractions like ‘smart growth’ and ‘sustainability’ than in fighting for new national parks, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas, it sure sounds familiar to me. Rosalie Edge, come back!”

DVOC elected to name its annual Conservation Award for Rosalie Edge - an excellent reminder of the work she did, and of the work that is yet to be done.