Olaus & Mardy Murie

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004

The Muries were crusaders who never gave up fighting for wild things and wild places. They brought the importance of protecting wilderness to the public consciousness and battled Congress to ensure wilderness sur­vived. Passionate but gentle, the Muries helped lay the foundation for the modern conservation movement in the United States.

They lived most of their lives in Wyoming where they helped start the Wilderness Society and create Grand Teton National Park and the Teton Science School. Olaus was a biologist for the U.S. Biological Survey (now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) who became known as "Mister  Elk" for his studies of North America's largest elk herd in Jackson. He was a much-respected but controversial figure, disagreeing with the survey on predator control. In his work on the herd, he concluded that killing off predators had upset the natural balance and that entire ecosystems should be preserved, setting the course for his and Mary's conservation work.

Throughout the 1940s, 1950s, and  1960s, conservationists converged on the Murie ranch, debating and discussing environmental policy and hammering out the Wilderness Act.

Articulate, intelligent, worldly, but always clown to earth, Mardy, the first woman to graduate from the University of Alaska, became known as the "Grandmother of Conservation." For more than three decades, she spoke out and wrote letters about wilderness. Recruiting former Supreme Court Justice William O.Douglas to the cause, she convinced President Eisenhower to protect 8 million acres in Alaska as a refuge. Even at seventy-eight, after Olaus' death, she worked on the Alaska Lands Act, which increased national park acreage from 7 million to 50 million acres, added 54 million acres to the national wildlife refuge system and 56 million acres of wilderness. She earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.

Both Olaus and Mardy were accomplished authors. Mardy's Two in the Far North about the couple's research mission in Alaska was crucial in getting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge set aside, and Olaus' nature guides and Elk of North America are still recognized as some of the best by biologists today.

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