Rosalie Edge (1877-1962) was the first American woman to
achieve national renown as a conservationist. Dyana Z. Furmansky
draws on Edge's personal papers and on interviews with
family members and associates to portray an implacable, indomitable
personality whose activism earned her the names "Joan of Arc" and
"hellcat." A progressive New York socialite and veteran suffragist,
Edge did not join the conservation movement until her early
fifties. Nonetheless, her legacy of achievements--called
"widespread and monumental" by the New Yorker--forms a
crucial link between the eras defined by John Muir and Rachel
Carson. An early voice against the indiscriminate use of toxins and
pesticides, Edge reported evidence about the dangers of DDT
fourteen years before Carson's Silent Spring was
Today, Edge is most widely remembered for establishing Hawk
Mountain Sanctuary, the world's first refuge for birds of prey.
Founded in 1934 and located in eastern Pennsylvania, Hawk Mountain
was cited in Silent Spring as an "especially significant"
source of data. In 1930, Edge formed the militant Emergency
Conservation Committee, which not only railed against the
complacency of the Bureau of Biological Survey, Audubon Society,
U.S. Forest Service, and other stewardship organizations but also
exposed the complicity of some in the squandering of our natural
heritage. Edge played key roles in the establishment of Olympic and
Kings Canyon National Parks and the expansion of Yosemite and
Sequoia National Parks. Filled with new insights into a tumultuous
period in American conservation, this is the life story of an
unforgettable individual whose work influenced the first generation
of environmentalists, including the founders of the Wilderness
Society, Nature Conservancy, and Environmental Defense Fund.
Subjects: History, Environmental Science
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