Conservation Area's Name Change Honors an Important Advocate for Birds of Prey
25 March 2009Naming the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area for Morley Nelson is a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his life to raptor conservation, said J. Peter Jenny, president and CEO of The Peregrine Fund.
The U.S. House of Representatives today approved legislation that renames the conservation area to honor the Boise conservationist. The legislation was passed by the Senate last week and now goes to President Obama for his signature.
Nelson served on The Peregrine Fund's board of directors for 22 years, from 1981 to 2005. He was instrumental in establishing The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise when the organization consolidated its administrative offices and breeding facilities in Idaho in 1984.
"Morley's boundless enthusiasm for his home state convinced us that Idaho was the place to be," Jenny said. "The Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area ranks among the word's most important raptor habitats. Nobody did more than Morley to protect that precious resource and we are deeply grateful."
After Nelson died in 2005, the World Center for Birds of Prey paid tribute to him with the installation of a permanent exhibit at the interpretive center featuring his rock-climbing gear, cameras and falconry equipment. Nelson's innovative designs for nesting structures on power poles, which saves untold thousands of birds of prey from electrocution, are also on display. A tree and plaque in the outdoor courtyard are dedicated to him and the Tropical Breeding Barn, where Harpy Eagles and other endangered raptors were bred and raised for release to the wild, was dedicated to Nelson in 1987.
An extensive collection related to Nelson at the Archives of Falconry at the World Center for Birds of Prey grew recently with additional books, films and papers donated by his family.
Nelson's association with The Peregrine Fund began long before the organization was founded in 1970. Peregrine Fund founder Tom Cade first met Nelson in Boise in 1951, the year Cade graduated from the University of Alaska.
"I presented him with two Peregrines from the Yukon River that year," Cade recalled. "Later, in 1959, he traveled with me by boat on the Colville River in Arctic Alaska, where he did motion picture filming of Gyrfalcons and Peregrines."
Cade said Nelson's contribution to conservation of birds of prey in the West makes him one of the most important people of the 20th century.
"He was recognized internationally for what he did," Cade said.
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