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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January 5 — National Bird Day

Who doesn’t love birds (other than Sheldon Cooper)?  We are attracted by their beauty and diversity, their songs, the graceful freedom of their flight and their companionship, at the bird feeder or in our homes as pets.  January 5 honors that love as National Bird Day.  The day was created in 2002 by a collaboration […]

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January 4 — James Bond Born (1900)

“Bond.  James Bond.”  Those words are now immortal among the fans of Ian Fleming’s super-spy.  James Bond has been played by Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Daniel Craig and a number of others.  But who was the real James Bond?  Not a spy, not a dapper man-about-town.  No, the real James Bond was an ornithologist. James […]

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January 3 — Canaveral National Seashore Created (1975)

A long barrier island on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, just west of Orlando and south of Daytona, is notable for two reasons.  One is the presence of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center rocket launching site.  The other is Canaveral National Seashore, signed into existence on January 3, 1975, by President Gerald Ford. Even without being adjacent to […]

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January 2 — Bob Marshall Born (1901)

The father of wilderness preservation, Bob Marshall, was born on January 2, 1901 (died 1939).  Almost single-handedly, Bob Marshall convinced the world that preserving some wild lands, untouched by the works of humans, was an essential part of civilization.  Although he lived for only 39 years, his impact has been immortal. Robert Marshall was a […]

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January 1 — NEPA Enacted (1970)

On January 1, 1970, President Richard Nixon signed into law the National Environmental Policy Act, now known universally by its acronym—NEPA.  NEPA is considered Magna Carta for the  environment in the United States. NEPA is a remarkably short law—only 7 pages—considering the major impact that it has had on government actions.  When passed, the law […]

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