Margaret Murie: Protector of Alaska's Wild Space
January 01, 2021
Margaret (Mardy) Murie (1902-2003) played a key role in studying and protecting Alaska’s wild places and conservation science and policy.
Mardy was born in 1902 and moved to Alaska when she was five. In 1924, she was the first woman to graduate from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Along with her biologist husband Olaus, Mardy conducted field research on Arctic ecosystems. They learned that large animals, such as caribou, need vast undisturbed areas to thrive. In 1964, the Muries’ studies helped inform the federal Wilderness Act, which identified 9.1 million acres of land across the US to be to be preserved.
In 1980, their work was instrumental in helping pass the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), which determined the boundaries of many national parks and federal lands in Alaska. ANILCA’s provisions include protection of Alaska Native subsistence on federal lands and expansion and renaming of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Mardy was presented with the Audubon Medal in 1980, the John Muir Award in 1983, the Robert Marshall Conservation Award in 1986, and, in 1998, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Mardy died in 2003 at the age of 101.
Did you know Mardy Murie and have a story you’d like to share about her? We’d love to know more about her and about the powerful women in your life. Share your images and stories with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @anchoragemuseum and #ExtraToughWomenAK and we’ll add them to our ongoing digital curation project. Stay tuned for more information about the upcoming exhibition and be sure to check back for new #ExtraToughWomenAK posts.
Image courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NCTC Archived Museum