Women in Conservation

Men are often labelled as the important shapers and changemakers in the conservation movement. Thoreau, Roosevelt, and Emerson are all names that spark thoughts of natural preservation. Here are the women that played major roles in the environmental movement and  are currently working in conservation.


To celebrate trailblazing women in history during the month of March, let’s remember the leading ladies in conservation!

Rachel Carson

Author of Silent Spring, Carson was a huge advocate for regulating chemicals. She exploited the lethal effects of pesticides such as DDT on bird and insect populations. In 1966, Maine opened the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge which consists of 50 coastal miles and 11 divisions between Kittery and Cape Elizabeth.


Margaret “Mardy” Murie

Murie is often considered the “Grandmother of Conservation”. She grew up in Alaska and was the first woman to graduate from the University of Alaska. Adventurer and advocate, Murie played a major role int the creation of the Wilderness Act and designation of the Arctic National Wildlife Range.


Cornelia “Fly Rod” Crosby

Born in 1854 in Phillips, Crosby is known as Maine’s first licensed guide. She was considered a great angler in the Rangeley area and wrote a newspaper column called ““Fly Rod’s Note Book”. In 1895, she attended a Sportsmen’s Exposition in New York City and helped promote tourism in Maine.




Conservation looks a bit different today than during it’s inception 200 plus years ago. Let’s take a look at the women behind science, policy, and creativity!

Rue Mapp

Founder of Outdoor Afro, Mapp is dedicated to making the outdoors a safe and accessible space for all. Her organization focuses on Black leadership and connection to nature. Mapp is a National Geographic fellow and serves are multiple conservation initiative boards.


Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

Johnson is the co-editor of All We Can Save,  a book about the climate crisis from different perspectives. She also co-created the podcast How to Save a Planet, which addresses both policy and science. Johnson has appeared on TED talks, is an accomplished writer, and is currently president and co-founder of Urban Ocean Lab- “a think tank for the future of coastal cities”.

Sandy Ritchie

Ritchie began her career as a biologist with Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. In the 1980s, she and one other were the only women employed by the state as biologists. She never had a female role model in science to look up to. With out any intention, she paved a trail for future women in conservation.

Winter Conifers

Conifers of Maine

Coniferous trees! Do they all look the same? Read more and find out how to identify species of evergreen, all year around.

Pine needles are grown in clusters off of branches and the number of needles per bunch can help you identify the species. Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) has 5 needles per cluster, Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida) has 3, and Red Pine (Pinus resinosa) has 2 needles per bunch.

Color can be tricky to use as a distinguishing factor, however at times it is helpful. Eastern white pine needles have a bluish green hue, while Red pines have a dark green needle, and Pitch pines are much more greenish yellow.

Maine is home to one deciduous conifer- a tree that has needles which fall off in the autumn. The Eastern tamarack (Larix laricina), also known as larch, or hackmatack, is a softwood found scattered throughout the state. It occurs in cool and swampy environments with well-drained soils. The needles grow off the branch in clusters or spurs of 8 needles. They turn bright yellow in September before they fall. The short cones grow off of the branch which then open up to spread winged seeds all over the ground below the tree in autumn.

There are three Spruce species in the state- Black (Picea mariana), Red (Picea rubens), and White (Picea glauca). You can use characteristics of the needles to identify them. Black spruce needles are bluish in color with no shininess. Red spruce needles have very shiny needles and White spruce are not shiny but have a strong odor when crushed between your fingers.

You may also use the shapes of the cones to help distinguish the trees. Black spruces have spherical cones, the red spruce cones are wide in the middle, while the white spruce has cylindrical cones.

Balsam fir (Abies balsamea) is another iconic species in the north woods of Maine but does occur state wide. This fir grows in a sharp spire with very regular whirls for branches, giving the tree stunning symmetry. The bark has blemishes filled with pitch or sap. This resin is so sticky it was once used to mount microscope slides and was used in theater costume making. It’s symmetry as well as aromatic needles make it an easy choice for a Christmas tree.

Eastern hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis) typically dominate moist and cool habitats of Maine. This semi shade-tolerant species has scaly bark that can have a reddish-brown hue or be mostly gray. The leaves are flat which is a major difference between this tree and a spruce. The needles are yellowish green with white on the bottom.

Atlantic white-cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) is a common species in low areas or bogs. It can be found as far south as York County. It is a short tree- rarely found over 40 feet- with short branches and has scaly leaves which are arranged in fanlike structures. These white-cedar needles emit an odor when crushed. Its cones are small and have a purplish hue before maturity. The wood is also quite fragrant and is light brown in color.

Need some more help with conifer ID? Head over to Maine Forest Service’s identification guide!