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Washington

Activist Led Conservation in Eastern Washington

"If we don’t take care of nature it’s going to come back and bite us in the butt."

That was Dr. George Hudson’s philosophy of conservation, as described by his son Fred Hudson.

Dr. Hudson was an early activist for The Nature Conservancy in Pullman and eastern Washington. He organized the Inland Empire Chapter in 1966, attracting members in eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. It rivaled the Western Washington Chapter in membership and activity. In 1979, the Inland Empire Chapter was disbanded and its members absorbed into the Washington and Idaho programs.

Rose Creek Becomes Preserve

One of the first Nature Conservancy preserves in Washington was Rose Creek, 12 acres of Palouse country that Hudson and his wife donated to the Conservancy.

In 2008, the tiny preserve was transferred to the Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute for long-term stewardship. More than 240 species of native plants and animals have been documented on this property and an adjacent 10 acres that the Hudsons retained.

Recognized by Classmates

Dr. Hudson was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in 1907, and spent his youth exploring swamps and coastal areas. He was recognized by his classmates and teachers as an expert on birds and reptiles, and went on to get a doctorate in zoology at the University of Nebraska.

He and his wife, Bessie Friedrich Hudson, moved to Pullman in 1938 when he was appointed an assistant professor of zoology and curator of the Charles R. Conner Natural History Museum at Washington State University. He spent the rest of his life in Pullman, except for his military service during World War II.

Dr. Hudson’s bibliography runs to more than 75 books and articles, and his wife Bessie was a partner in many of them. She illustrated one of his early books, on the herpetology of Nebraska. Her freehand drawings of snakes and reptiles were amazingly accurate.

Passionate in Defense of Nature

Dr. Hudson was an avid hunter and sportsman, and passionate in defense of nature. He led the fight for the Palouse River in Pullman, and his efforts kept the city from putting it into a concrete channel as happened in nearby Colfax. He pushed the county to create repositories for hazardous agricultural wastes, and convinced the university to acquire Smoot Hill, an 800-acre reserve of native Palouse habitat.

Dr. Hudson passed his philosophy on to his son as they traipsed the wild lands of eastern Washington.

“When I was a child, he’d say ‘Son, put your feet right where my feet have gone,’ as we went through a wetland or up into the forest,” Fred recalled. “He believed absolutely that you leave the least footprint that you can on the wilderness.” 

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