National wildlife artist Bob Hines (l) and agency writer and editor Rachel Carson (r) spent many hours along the Atlantic coast visiting national wildlife refuges and gathering material for many of the agency’s pamphlets and technical publications. Here, Hines and Carson search out marine specimens in the Florida Keys around 1955, which Hines drew as illustrations for Carson’s third book, “The Edge of the Sea.” By this time, Carson had left the Interior Department agency and was writing full-time as a nationally-known author and popularizer of biological subjects. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo
September 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Throughout the month, through a series of articles, Midwest Region contaminants specialists have shared their accomplishments and challenges, along with their thoughts on the legacy of Rachel Carson. You can see these articles online, and two of them are featured in this issue of Inside Region 3.
As I read these stories, I began to think about the parallel between Carson’s work and the current endeavor by the Service to continue implementing strategic habitat conservation through the use of surrogate species. Surrogate species are used for conservation planning to support multiple species and habitats within an area.
While we are very early in the process of developing this approach, it seems clear that the groundwork was laid decades ago. Carson’s work, which opened the world’s eyes to the dangers of DDT, led to efforts that pinpointed the cause of the decline of the bald eagle. In turn, that work prompted the study of a suite of species whose populations were impacted by DDT and other environmental contaminants.
We do not yet know which species we will designate as surrogate species; but examples, such as the work done by Rachel Carson and the work we’ve done here in the Midwest on lake trout, copperbelly watersnake, bald eagles, gray wolves and others, demonstrates that by focusing our efforts on certain specific species, we can impact many other species. While the term surrogate species may be new to us, the concept is not; I ask you to keep that in mind as we move forward with implementing SHC.
Rachel Carson was a visionary whose legacy continues to guide our efforts. I like to think that among us today we have visionaries who will inspire conservation leaders decades into the future.
Midwest Regional Director