January 18 — White Sands National Monument Created (1933)

My atlas shows a long narrow rectangle in purple, extending from the southern border of central New Mexico to the north for about 150 miles.  The purple rectangle is the White Sands Missile Range, and buried inside it is the White Sands National Monument, a place of natural beauty like none other in the world. […]

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January 17 — Benjamin Franklin, America’s First Environmentalist, Born (1706)

Benjamin Franklin was a lot of things—inventor, publisher, scientist, diplomat, framer of the Declaration of Independence.  But, some argue, he was also America’s first environmentalist.  You be the judge. Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 (died 1790).  He had little formal education, but learned wherever he went.  As an apprentice printer, he learned the […]

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January 10 — National Houseplant Appreciation Day

So, it’s a stretch.  National Houseplant Day may not be a biggee in the history of conservation.  But just think for a moment what good things houseplants do for us. Houseplants actually improve your indoor environment, an example of how nature and humans work together.  They absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, making it easier […]

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January 16 — Dian Fossey Born (1932)

Dian Fossey, the world’s leading expert on mountain gorillas, was born on January 16, 1932 (died 1985).  She followed her dream to visit Africa as a young woman.  There she discovered an affinity to nature and specifically to mountain gorillas that occupied her entire life and led to her murder in a machete attack in […]

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January 14 — Martin Holdgate Born (1931)

Martin Holdgate, one of the leaders of British conservation during the past half-century, was born January 14, 1931.  He was part of most of the major environmental and conservation developments in England and around the world. Holdgate studied biological sciences at Cambidge University, completing a doctorate in insect physiology in 1955.  At the conclusion of […]

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January 13 — MaVynee Betsch, the Beach Lady, Born (1935)

She was an African-American opera singer who thrilled European audiences in the 1950s.  But to most in her adopted home on Amelia Island, Florida, she was just the “Beach Lady.”  The lives of music lovers and environmentalists all benefitted from her untiring passion and persistence. MaVynee Oshun Betsch was born in Jacksonville, Florida, on January […]

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January 9 — Muir Woods National Monument Created (1908)

President Theodore Roosevelt declared the creation of Muir Woods National Monument on January 9, 1908.  The 1906 Antiquities Act provided the legal authority for establishment of national monuments by the president.  Muir Woods became just the seventh national monument created in the United States. Muir Woods lies just north of San Francisco, adjacent to Golden […]

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January 8 — Alfred Russel Wallace Born (1823)

The great 19th Century naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace was born on January 8, 1823 (died 1913).  Today, Wallace is known mostly as a footnote—the other originator of the idea of evolution and natural selection, aside the much more famous Charles Darwin.  His prolific career as a naturalist and social commentator, however, made Wallace one of […]

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January 7 — Gerald Durrell Born (1925)

The first word he spoke, according to his mother, was “zoo.”  As a child, whenever he was asked where he wanted to go, he said, “zoo.”  If he didn’t get taken there, he threw a fit. And eventually, not content with what others did with zoos, he created his own. Gerald Durrell learned early to […]

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January 6 — Wild Kingdom First Airs (1963)

The most successful wildlife television series in history, Wild Kingdom, first aired on Sunday, January 6, 1963.  Anyone interested in animals and nature growing up in the 1960s and 1970s watched faithfully each week as host Marlin Perkins and naturalist Jim Fowler traversed the world exploring the lives of wild creatures—and usually ending up wrestling […]

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