Sarah Palin has been calling herself and members of her conservative female movement the ‘Mama Grizzlies’. Regardless of what you think of Palin’s ideology, it seems wrong to not let the women who most deserve this wilderness-inspired title have it.
So this month, being National Women’s History Month, The Wilderness Society decided to have some fun and put the Mama Grizzly title where we think it truly belongs—with women who work every day, whether through green lifestyles, or on the job, to protect wilderness and wildlife (think grizzly bear cubs). These are our Real Mama Grizzlies and to honor them we’ve launched the Real Mama Grizzly campaign.
As part of our campaign, we’re trying something fun and hopefully a little inspirational. Throughout March, we’re honoring Real Mama Grizzlies on our Web site through stories and blogs. And we’re calling all women—conservative, modrerate or liberal—to help show what a Mama Grizzlies should really stand for—protecting the wild! Of course, we would be thrilled to see men get involved, too, so daddy grizzlies should consider themselves invited.
For the record, we’re certainly not suggesting women who work in conservation—or who adopt green lifestyles—are ferocious, aggressive or attacking. Quite the opposite. These amazing women are extremely solution minded. But each of them are fierce—and nurturing—in their own special ways. For some women that means writing letters to Congress to defend wildlands from damaging oil and gas drilling, for others it means making green choices like driving less or eating less meat. For the professional conservationist it might mean coordinating a multi-year campaign to protect a special swath of wildland from development.
Take for example the amazing women who helped drive the 20th century conservation movement. These women often served in the shadow of better known male conservationists, but they made their mark.Read about them here.
One woman that The Wilderness Society is quite fond of is Mardy Murie, also known as the “grandmother of the conservation movement”. In 1924 Murie married famed naturalist Olaus Murie and the couple spent their honeymoon on a caribou research expedition, dog sledding over some 500 miles of Alaska’s Brooks Range. Mardy would later take her babies on other Alaska expeditions to accompany Olaus during his work with the Biological Survey (later, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). Together the couple would become a driving force behind the creation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Mardy and her husband were tireless supporters of conservation, and Olaus served as director of The Wilderness Society from 1945 to 1962. Together they spent most of their time promoting legislation that would protect wild places from development. After her husband’s death, Mardy continued the work that she and Olaus had begun, joining the Governing Council of The Wilderness Society and working for the protection of wild Alaska.
Unlike other female conservationists of her time, Mardy Murie enjoyed recognition for her contributions and was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton in 1998.
Today women remain an important part of the struggle to defend wildlands. Whether by pushing wilderness bills through Congress or by refusing to stand by while profit-rich oil and gas companies pollute sensitive lands and waters, these women protect the vulnerable.
These Mama Grizzlies include professional conservationists, politicians and public servants. And they also include hundreds of thousands of everyday Mama Grizzlies…like the women reading this blog!
The Wilderness Society will be celebrating Real Mama Grizzlies throughout March with stories and blogs on our Web site. Check it out, and please feel free to leave your own stories about Mama Grizzlies in your own life.