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Faces of Conservation

The Founding Chair of the Nature Conservancy in Maine


On a spring day in 1956, Rachel Carson and a handful of concerned citizens gathered at the Wiscasset Inn on the Maine coast to discuss the threats they saw around them and consider what could be done. Every idea had promise but none seemed likely to succeed. Then Rachel Carson spoke.
“What about The Nature Conservancy?” she asked. “It is the only group I know, which is doing something practical about actually preserving areas.”
Her suggestion carried the day and the band of concerned citizens petitioned the young organization for a chapter. By that fall, The Nature Conservancy had founded its fourth state chapter. Miss Carson became the founding chairman and remained honorary chairman until her death.

Carson was living on Southport Island at the time she helped found the Maine Chapter. Nearby on the shores of Musongus Bay, she had come often to a salt pond, a bit of the sea left behind every time the tide recedes. It was from this quarter-acre salt pond that she gathered material for her book Edge of the Sea—kelp, sea colander, dulse, dogwinkles, periwinkles, brown-green knotted wrack and rockweed, blue mussels, green crabs and red, blue and green Irish moss. Today, people still find wonder in the vibrant sea life at The Nature Conservancy’s Rachel Carson Salt Pond Preserve and along the entire Rachel Carson Seacoast.

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