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Our Conservation Work - An Overview

Overview of ANS's Advocacy Efforts

ANS's conservation ethic and efforts go back to its formative years. The organization was founded in 1897 by a group of people who strongly objected to the killing of egrets and herons for their feathers. The all-volunteer organization helped push local laws that forbade any bird destruction, and they worked with District of Columbia planners to protect parklands and green spaces.On a larger scale, the organization rallied support for the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, and members and supporters helped organize the first federal bird-banding efforts in 1920. Ten years later, the Society formally endorsed a Senate bill protecting the bald eagle, which finally became law in 1940.

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In fall 2007, ANS Advocate Dolores Milmoe (with arms raised) led a tour, composed largely of land use planners, through Montgomery County's Agricultural Reserve. Tour participants from around the U.S. and Europe wanted a firsthand look at the ecological benefits of rural lands and how they interface with urban areas.

Before WWII, the Society's regional conservation work included protecting Virginia's Roaches Run, which was threatened by airport development. The organization's proud commitment to conservation continued in the 1950s, when ANS testified on Capitol Hill in support of conserving the natural beauty along the 185-mile Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, at left. We walked with Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas on his historic eight-day hike from Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, Maryland, in opposition to a highway planned for its entire length.

In the 1960s, we supported the neighbors and friends of Glover-Archbold Park, when a superhighway from Georgetown to Bethesda was slated to cut it in half. At the same time, we stood in opposition to the Three Sisters Bridge, an eight-laner planned from Interstate 66 near Sprout Run in Arlington to Canal Road in Georgetown. (Construction of the bridge was halted when a court of law determined that proper procedures hadn't been followed and alternatives to the road hadn't been adequately considered). During this time, the organization's volunteer staff also appeared before congressional committees to promote laws protecting golden eagles, to publicize the latest findings on pesticide contamination, and to provide technical assistance to the new Open Spaces Program.

Our water quality monitoring program, which began in 1994, trains scores of volunteers, who monitor more than 50 streams in the Washington region. We have organized networks of civic and environmental groups to fight for for local watershed protection.

On both sides of the Potomac, our advocates continue to testify at public hearings, attend planning board and county council meetings, and be, in effect, the eyes and ears of our members, who are concerned with local air and water quality as well as habitat diversity. Our expertise and experience on land use issues makes ANS a potent force on transportation-related challenges facing our region. Currently, we continue to lead the battle to preserve the good water quality of Ten Mile Creek, which feeds Little Seneca Reservoir and is threatened by development in Clarksburg. We are also active watchdogs over Montgomery County's Agricultural Reserve, and we are working with community and local government organizations to restore the Anacostia watershed. Our ongoing transportation and land use activities put us in good position to work on climate change issues affecting this area as well. As it has from the beginning, conservation advocacy will be an honored part of ANS's mission far into the future.