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Celebrating the Trailblazing Women of America's National Parks and Public Lands

James Nichols |

As we honor International Women's Day, it's the perfect moment to shine a light on four of the many incredible women who have played pivotal roles in preserving the natural wonders and heritage of America's National Parks and public lands.

Their dedication, passion, and vision have been instrumental in ensuring these treasures will be enjoyed by generations to come. Let's embark on a journey to recognize these remarkable women and their contributions to our national heritage.

Mardy Murie: The Grandmother of the Conservation Movement

Margaret "Mardy" Murie is often hailed as the "Grandmother of the Conservation Movement." Her tireless efforts alongside her husband, Olaus Murie, led to the expansion of the National Wildlife Refuge System, including the establishment of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Mardy's advocacy was crucial in the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, which protected millions of acres of federal land. Her spirit and determination remind us that passion for nature can lead to monumental conservation achievements.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Protector of the Everglades

Marjory Stoneman Douglas is best known for her seminal work, "The Everglades: River of Grass," which redefined the perception of the Everglades from a worthless swamp to a vital part of Florida's ecosystem. Her relentless activism helped save the Everglades from further degradation and ensured its designation as a national park. Douglas' legacy teaches us the power of the pen in conservation and the importance of seeing the value in all natural landscapes.

Betty Reid Soskin: The Nation's Oldest Park Ranger

At over 100 years old, Betty Reid Soskin served as a beacon of wisdom and history at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park. As the nation's oldest park ranger, now retired, Soskin shared her own experiences as a Black woman during World War II, providing invaluable insights into the racial and social dynamics of the era. Her work emphasizes the importance of diversity and inclusion in our national narratives and the role of public lands in telling these stories.

Susan Ahn Cuddy: A Trailblazer in Military and Environmental Advocacy

Susan Ahn Cuddy, the first Asian American woman in the U.S. Navy, also played a significant role in environmental advocacy, particularly in Los Angeles. Her efforts in community service and environmental preservation have contributed to the protection of public spaces and promoted the importance of civic engagement in conservation efforts. Cuddy's life reminds us that the fight for our public lands and national parks is intertwined with broader struggles for equality and justice.

As we celebrate International Women's Day, let us remember and honor these amazing women and many others like them who have dedicated their lives to preserving our natural heritage. Their stories are not just tales of environmental conservation but are also testaments to the power of perseverance, leadership, and the belief that every individual can make a difference. May their legacies inspire us to continue the work of protecting and cherishing America's National Parks and public lands for future generations to cherish and enjoy.

In the spirit of these trailblazing women, let's pledge to visit our parks and public lands with a commitment to respect, protect, and preserve their beauty and history. Whether it's through participating in conservation efforts, educating ourselves and others about the importance of these lands, or simply enjoying the wonders of nature responsibly, we can all contribute to the legacy of conservation that these remarkable women have built. Happy International Women's Day!