If you travel much in the wilder sections of our country, sooner or
later you are likely to meet the sign of the flying goose-the emblem of
the National Wildlife Refuges.
You may meet it by the side of a road crossing miles of flat prairie
in the middle West, or in the hot deserts of the Southwest. You may meet
it by some mountain lake, or as you push your boat through the winding
salty creeks of a coastal marsh.
Wherever you meet this sign, respect it. It means that the land behind
the sign has been dedicated by the American people to preserving, for themselves
and their children, as much of our native wildlife as can be retained along
with our modern civilization.
Wild creatures, like men, must have a place to live. As civilization
creates cities, builds highways, and drains marshes, it takes away, little
by little, the land that is suitable for wildlife. And as their space for
living dwindles, the wildlife populations themselves decline. Refuges resist
this trend by saving some areas from encroachment, and by preserving in
them, or restoring where necessary, the conditions that wild things need
in order to live.
This essay introduced the series, "Conservation in Action," a marvelously
written collection of narratives about Refuges and the Refuge System.
Rachel Carson was a scientist and chief editor for the U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Service from 1939-1952.( Photograph used by permission of Rachel
Carson History Project.)