Elizabeth Hartwell

Left: Elizabeth Hartwell - Courtesey of the Hartwell Family. Right: Aerial view of the refuge - USFWS.
In the early 1960’s a developer sought out land on Mason Neck to build a planned community and airport. Elizabeth van Laer Speer Hartwell, a local resident, who valued the pristine nature of the peninsula, organized an effort to stop this development. She recognized the potential of the Mason Neck peninsula as a safe haven for the endangered bald eagles along the Potomac River. Armed with enthusiasm and a gift for writing and public speaking, her citizen crusade convinced key Federal, state, and local officials the value of protecting the Neck and the bald eagle for future generations. Elizabeth Hartwell’s steadfast work resulted in the establishment of the Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge in 1969 earning her the nickname of “The Eagle Lady”. On August 6, 2006, Congress approved a name change for the refuge to the Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge in her honor.