Champions of Conservation

Mardy & Olaus Murie

Olaus Murie was born in 1889 in Minnesota. Following his graduation from the University of Oregon where he studied zoology and wildlife biology, he began working in the conservation field. As a biologist for the US Bureau of Biological Survey he surveyed the migrations and population sizes of Alaskan caribou and was then assigned to study threatened elk herds in Jackson Hole in 1927. Olaus’ work focused on a systems-based approach, he studied the entire habitat, not just the species, which was controversial at the time. In 1945 he was named the director of the Wilderness Society, and the Wilderness Society headquarters were at Murie Ranch in Grand Teton National Park. His work helped to establish the Wilderness Act of 1964, though he passed away in 1963. He was awarded the prestigious Audubon Medal in 1959.

Mardy Murie was born in Seattle in 1902, but grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska. She was the first woman to graduate from the University of Alaska in 1924. She advocated for conservation of public land and wrote books about conservation and her travels with Olaus. She was awarded the Audubon Medal in 1998 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Bill Clinton in 1998. Mardy passed away in 2003.