The National Audubon Society (NAS) family suffered a loss this week when former President Russell W. Peterson passed away at at the age of 94. Current NAS President David Yarnold said:
“The world has lost a champion for the environment. Russ Peterson distinguished himself as president of the National Audubon Society from 1979-1985. Throughout the country Audubon staffers join me in recalling his visionary contributions, and the extraordinary example he set.”
As president of the National Audubon Society from 1979 t0 1985, Mr. Peterson vigorously fought President Ronald Reagan’s efforts to weaken enforcement of environmental regulations to help business. When Reagan said conservationists would not be happy until the White House was a “bird’s nest,” Mr. Peterson snapped back that it was already “a cuckoo’s nest.”
Mr. Peterson pushed Audubon well beyond its traditional mission of protecting wildlife into newer environmental battles like population control, energy policy and curbing toxic chemicals. He hired more scientists, established an environmental curriculum for elementary schools and recruited Ted Turner to finance a film series, “The World of Audubon,” which used narrators like Robert Redford.
Russell’s family and friends are in our thoughts.