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Margaret Thomas "Mardy" Murie (August 18, 1902 – October 19, 2003) was a naturalist, author, adventurer, and conservationist. Dubbed the "Grandmother of the Conservation Movement" by both the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society,  she helped in the passage of the Wilderness Act, and was instrumental in creating the Arctic National Wildlife Refugemarker. She was the recipient of the Audubon Medal, the John Muir Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States.

Early life

Born Margaret Thomas on August 18, 1902 in Seattle, Washingtonmarker, Murie moved to Fairbanksmarker, Alaskamarker with her family when she was five years old. She attended Simmons College marker, then transferred to and became the first woman to be graduated from the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines, (now the University of Alaska Fairbanksmarker), with a degree in business administration. She met Olaus Murie in Fairbanks, and they married in 1924 in Anvik, Alaskamarker. The couple spent their honeymoon traveling over the upper Koyukuk River region by boat and dogsled, conducting caribou research. The couple were the inspiration for John Denver's ballad "A Song For All Lovers."

Books and articles

Two in the Far North, a memoir published in 1962, chronicles Murie’s early life in Alaska, marriage to Olaus Murie, and research expeditions in Alaska. Murie also wrote Island Between, published in 1977, and Wapiti Wilderness, published in 1966 with her husband Olaus Murie as co-author. A documentary, Arctic Dance was made about her life.

Work as naturalist

In 1956, Murie began a campaign with her husband to protect what is now the Arctic National Wildlife Refugemarker. The couple recruited U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas to help persuade President Dwight Eisenhower to set aside as the Arctic National Wildlife Range.

After her husband's death in 1963, Murie began writing and took over much of her husband's conservation work, writing letters and articles, traveling to hearings and making speeches. Murie returned to Alaska to survey potential wilderness areas for the National Park Service and worked on the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act that was signed by President Carter in 1980. That legislation set aside of land in Alaska and doubled the size of the Arctic National Wildlife Refugemarker. The Murie Residencemarker in Moose, Wyomingmarker was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990, and as part of the Murie Ranch Historic Districtmarker was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006. It now houses a conservation institute named for Murie and her husband.


Murie received the Audubon Medal in 1980, the John Muir Award in 1983, and the Robert Marshall Conservation Award in 1986. She was made an Honorary Park Ranger by the National Park Service and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Alaska.

In 1998 President Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Just prior to her 100th birthday in 2002, Murie received the J.N. Ding Darling Conservationist of the Year Award, the National Wildlife Federation's highest honor.

Murie died on October 19, 2003, at the age of 101.





  • Two in the Far North ISBN 088240489X
  • Waipiti Wilderness ISBN 087081155X
  • Island Between ISBN 0912006048

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