Monday, November 19, 2007

Should National Audubon deal with nonbird topics?

Earlier this month, the man who broadened the National Audubon Society's scope beyond birds died. Peter A.A. Berle, 69, died from injuries caused by the collapse of a barn roof.

Berle (pronounced Burley) served as president of Audubon from 1985 to 1995 and led the move to deal with nonavian topics. Financial challenges had prompted a re-evaluation of the organization and its goals.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Convinced that Audubon should expand its base beyond bird watchers, he launched a reorganization that was at times painful, particularly when he attempted to remove the great egret as Audubon's symbol and replace it with a flag.

The hue and cry from the rank and file subsided only when Berle acknowledged he had made a mistake, but he did not retreat from his larger objective: to help Audubon grow in its role as an advocate for the environment, as concerned with the habitat of humans as of birds.

"He had an early vision . . . for the sustainability and livability of cities," said Glenn Olson, executive director of Audubon California, who knew Berle for 20 years. "Most of the areas Audubon was trying to protect were outside of cities. Peter brought it back into cities."
Do you think the organization should have expanded its scope or retained a focus on birds? Is Audubon the best advocate for birds, or has another group assumed that role?

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