DREHERSVILLE — From Peru to New Brunswick, conservationists are well aware of the research conducted under the guidance of the biologists and staff who are the heart and soul of the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.
Further recognition has recently been given to HMS by being listed on the National Register of Historic Places and being recognized for its important role in conservation and women’s history. According to HMS Chairman Sean Grace, the designation follows more than a decade of work toward the listing, with renewed efforts in 2019 in conjunction with the state’s Office of Historic Preservation.
“Hawk Mountain is significant as the world’s first raptor sanctuary and a leader in the American conservation movement of the early 20th century, when the sanctuary played a vital role in changing public attitudes toward raptors and the securing their permanent legal protection,” Grace said. . “Our unique history and heritage in the conservation movement sets us apart from other organizations, and today we teach others around the world how to replicate our successful model.
“We are grateful to the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office, which encouraged Hawk Mountain’s consideration for designation as a National Historic Landmark, and the National Park Service, which plans to highlight this designation on the National Register as a model for other conservation-focused appointments.
“Hawk Mountain Sanctuary intends to remain a model for science, education and stewardship while opening the doors of conservation to diverse applicants from around the world, and we will remain an exceptional destination to enjoy the ecosystem of the Appalachians and take in breathtaking views from the mountain and the annual raptor migration.
In 1967, Hawk Mountain was designated a National Natural Landmark for its outstanding value in illustrating the natural history of the United States. This latest designation emphasizes the historical significance of Hawk Mountain’s role in conservation and women’s history.
After Hawk Mountain founder Rosalie Edge secured the ground, Maurice Broun, the sanctuary’s first caretaker, arrived with his wife Irma in 1934 to protect the sanctuary from shooters and begin documenting the migration that could be observed here. .
Broun quickly became one of the leading ornithologists and conservationists of the day, and his publication of migration counts at HMS formed the basis for the scientific study and conservation of raptors across the United States. .
By the 1980s, Hawk Mountain had become a pioneer and leader in global raptor conservation. He solidified his position in 1993 with the creation of Hawks Aloft Worldwide, a global conservation initiative to collect, analyze and disseminate information on migrating raptors through the creation of an international network of independent grassroots organizations.
The findings were published by BirdLife International in RaptorWatch, a global directory of raptor migration sites, which includes contributions from more than 800 observers to detail 388 raptor migration hotspots. The book came out in 2000 and has been noted as the world’s most geographically comprehensive reference for falcon migration.
In addition to its scientific contributions, the Sanctuary also helped foster and shape the late 20th century American environmental movement, which reached its peak after the publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in 1962. Carson relied on Hawk Mountain data that cited a decline in juvenile bald eagle populations to reach his conclusions about the disastrous environmental effects of the pesticide DDT.
“Since the 1980s, we’ve leveraged our work through our international trainee program, which has led to collaborative raptor work in 75 countries around the world,” Grace said. “Perhaps more importantly, 50% of our graduates come from diverse backgrounds and 60% of our graduates are women.”
When it comes to women’s history, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is synonymous with the pioneering conservation work of the sanctuary’s founder, Rosalie Barrow Edge.
Described by Maurice Broun as “the greatest female environmentalist of the 20th century”, Edge led a crusade to reform the National Association of Audubon Societies and ushered in a new era of environmental activism.
During this time, Irma Broun served as the Sanctuary’s first unofficial, volunteer “guardian”. She has been instrumental in protecting Hawk Mountain from sport shooters and developing its reputation as a leader in conservation education.
DOYLE DIETZ is a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association.