Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

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Norton Testifies in Support of Her Bill Designating the Rachel Carson Nature Trail in D.C.

Jul 23, 2013
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today testified in support of her bill (H.R 620) designating a National Park Service (NPS) trail in Glover Archbold Park in the District of Columbia, from Canal Road to Van Ness Street, as the “Rachel Carson Nature Trail” at a meeting of the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission. Norton brought two photographs of Carson on bird walks in the park to authenticate Carson’s personal use of the park and trail. She testified before the Commission in support of the bill last Congress and was asked to provide further information about Carson’s involvement in Glover Archbold Park. Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) is the Senate sponsor of the bill, and it has two House cosponsors – Representatives Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulations, and Alcee Hastings (D-FL) – all of whom signed on since last year’s meeting.

“Beyond the national significance of Rachel Carson’s work, the naming of this particular trail in her honor has special meaning in the District because the idea was initiated by residents of the Spring Valley community who have great appreciation for Rachel Carson’s environmental discoveries and accomplishments, and for her visits to Glover Archbold Park in her work. The trail would also be a natural memorial because students at Georgetown University, The George Washington University and American University have already been involved in cleanup activities on the Glover Archbold Park trail through the Student Conversation Association. The naming of this trail should also be of significance to NPS since Ms. Carson used Glover Archbold Park as a source for her seminal environmental observations.”

Glover Park residents first brought the idea to Norton to name the trail after Carson this year, the 50th anniversary of the publication of her groundbreaking book, Silent Spring. Carson was a world-renowned environmental scientist who studied changes in nature as a federal employee, working as the Editor-in-Chief for the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Service’s publications department, and performing groundbreaking research on the dangers of pesticides. Carson died in April 1964, leaving a rich legacy benefitting present and future generations.

The full text of Norton’s testimony follows.

Testimony of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton on H.R. 620
National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission Meeting
July 23, 2013

       I testify today in strong support of H.R. 620, which designates the National Park Service (NPS) trail located in the Glover Archbold Park section of the District of Columbia, from Canal Road to Van Ness Street, as the "Rachel Carson Nature Trail." When I testified in support of this bill at a National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission meeting last year, the Commission asked me whether I had any further information about Rachel Carson’s work in Glover Archbold Park. I agreed to gather information and submit it to the Commission. I subsequently submitted two items for the Commission’s review, which I have also brought with me today: (1) a photo published in the October 12, 1962, issue of Life Magazine showing Rachel Carson and members of the Audubon Naturalists Society on a lunch-hour bird walk through Glover Archbold Park, and (2) an unpublished photo provided by the Rachel Carson Council, which was taken by a friend of Rachel Carson, Shirley Briggs, that shows Rachel Carson and members of the Audubon Naturalists Society on a bird walk in a different part of Glover Archbold Park. Clearly, Rachel Carson, who was a federal employee at the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), saw Glover Archbold Park as a nearby site in the city that benefitted her thinking and her work on environmental preservation.

       Since last year’s meeting, our effort has been joined by a Senate sponsor of the bill, Senator Robert Casey, and two House cosponsors, Representatives Raúl Grijalva, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulations, and Alcee Hastings.

       Beyond the national significance of Rachel Carson’s work, the naming of this particular trail in her honor has special meaning in the District because the idea was initiated by residents of the Spring Valley community who have great appreciation for Rachel Carson’s environmental discoveries and accomplishments, and for her visits to Glover Archbold Park in her work. The trail would also be a natural memorial because students at Georgetown University, The George Washington University and American University have already been involved in cleanup activities on the Glover Archbold Park trail through the Student Conversation Association. The naming of this trail should also be of significance to NPS since Ms. Carson used Glover Archbold Park as a source for her seminal environmental observations.

       Ms. Carson was born on May 27, 1907, on a farm in Springdale, Pennsylvania, graduated magna cum laude with a biology degree from the Pennsylvania College for Women (later Chatham College), and received a full scholarship that enabled her to obtain a master's degree in marine zoology from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Ms. Carson, an environmental pioneer and an inspiration for the development of environmental consciousness, was best known for her groundbreaking book, Silent Spring. September 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of Silent Spring, which has been translated into more than a dozen languages.

       Notably, chemical organizations that were once critical of Silent Spring have now indicated support for the book and for Rachel Carson’s important work. For example, the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) members forcefully criticized Silent Spring in the past, but in 2012, ACS awarded Silent Spring “Landmark” status in a public ceremony, and an ACS representative praised Silent Spring for leading to a “paradigm shift of great significance that set the stage for the more sustainable science we practice today.” The views of these chemical companies have changed because Ms. Carson’s concerns about pesticides and other environmental matters have been validated by science, and have spurred the successful search for environmental-friendly alternatives to pesticides.

       The federal government should particularly recognize this world-renowned environmental scientist, who worked as a writer, editor, and, ultimately, Editor-in-Chief for the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Service's publications department. Ms. Carson accomplished much of her seminal professional work as a federal employee at DOI. She used Glover Archbold Park in the District for observations about nature and the environment. She performed research on the dangers of pesticides, and her findings were sustained by the Science Advisory Committee, created during President John F. Kennedy's administration. As a result, federal and state legislatures enacted pesticide legislation. Her work paved the way for innovative environmental protection legislation throughout the world.

       Ms. Carson was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters and received many other honors. She died on April 14, 1964, in Silver Spring, Maryland, leaving a rich legacy that will continue to benefit present and future generations well beyond the 50th anniversary of Silent Spring.

       My bill serves to commemorate Ms. Carson for her tireless efforts to make the nation’s capital, the United States, and, indeed, the world a better and safer place for all in an especially meaningful way because it comes from citizens who not only appreciate Rachel Carson’s work, but associate that work with appreciation for our parks and for the NPS. The bill ensures that Ms. Carson's contributions, many of which resulted from observations in Glover Archbold Park, will be remembered and treasured for years to come.

       I strongly urge the Commission to make a positive recommendation to the Secretary of the Interior and to the Administrator of the General Services Administration in support of this legislation.

Published: July 23, 2013