Conservationist inspires reverence for wilderness – By FRANCES BEINECKE | 10/31/13 5:07 AM EDT

Margaret “Mardy” Murie and Frances Beinecke (left) are pictured in this composite. | AP Photos

Murie was ‘grandmother of the conservation movement,’ Beinecke writes. | AP Photos

The following essay is part of a series in which dozens of women will reveal what women they most admire. The series is part of “Women Rule,” a unique effort this fall by POLITICO, Google and The Tory Burch Foundation exploring how women are leading change in politics, policy and their communities. See more essays here.

I traveled to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska this summer and got to experience one of the wildest landscapes left on Earth. I saw grizzly bears playing in the grass, wolves tracking caribou and wildflowers blooming in a riot of color. One afternoon, I stepped into a tiny visitor center and saw a tribute to the woman who helped protect the refuge and 100 million acres more of America’s natural heritage: Margaret “Mardy” Murie.

Mardy, who died in 2003, was a force of nature and my conservation heroine and role model. She navigated the male-dominated worlds of frontier Alaska, the oil and gas industry — and Capitol Hill to preserve our wilderness crown jewels. In the process, she became an inspiration to a generation of women entering the environmental arena in the 1970s. She was hailed as the “grandmother of the conservation movement.

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