Murie, Margaret (Elizabeth) 1902-2003

views updated

MURIE, Margaret (Elizabeth) 1902-2003


See index for CA sketch: Born August 18, 1902, in Seattle, WA; died October 19, 2003, near Moose, WY. Activist and author. Murie, whose work helped create Grand Teton National Park and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, was considered by many nature conservationists to be the matriarch of the wilderness preservation movement. After her mother moved the family to Alaska when Murie was nine, she spent her youth there and graduated from what is now the University of Alaska in 1924. Marrying biologist Olaus J. Murie that year, she spent her married life following her husband through the wilderness as he conducted research for the federal government. In 1927, the couple moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and here they worked together to campaign for the passage of legislation that, in 1929, created Grand Teton National Park. Murie also was instrumental in persuading President Eisenhower to preserve eight million acres of land in Alaska, aided significantly in the creation of the Wilderness Act in 1964, and in 1980 helped expand the designated wilderness area in Alaska to nineteen million acres. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, part of the Alaska Lands Act that President Carter signed into law, spares this land from oil and gas drilling, although in recent years the George W. Bush administration has campaigned hard to dismantle this legislation. With the death of her husband in 1963, Murie continued his work throughout her life, and their cabin in Wyoming became a hub for environmentalist activity; she is also credited with inspiring many young people to follow her lead in wildlife conservation. For her years of service, Murie received many honors, including the 1980 Audubon Medal, the 1981 John Muir Award, and the 1998 Presidential Medal of Freedom. The author of several books, including Two in the Far North (1962; thirty-fifth anniversary edition, 1997), Wapiti Wilderness (1966), which was written with her husband, and Island Between (1978), Murie bequeathed her seventy-seven acre ranch to the National Park Service upon her death. The legacy she and her husband left behind will continue through the Murie Center there.



Netzley, Patricia D., Environmental Literature: An Encyclopedia of Works, Authors, and Themes, ABC-CLIO (Santa Barbara, CA), 1999.


Los Angeles Times, October 22, 2003, p. B10.

New York Times, October 23, 2003, p. C14.

Washington Post, October 22, 2003, p. B7.