Osprey Legacy Society

EDF founders

Founders Art Cooley, Charlie Wurster & Dennis Puleston

Osprey Legacy Society Members receive:

  • Lifetime subscription to Solutions, EDF's quarterly newsletter
  • Our special semiannual Society newsletter, Osprey Watch
  • Invitations to special events and seminars
  • Recognition in our annual report

The Osprey Legacy Society honors the vision of the founders of EDF, and the importance of their victory in 1972 over the use of DDT, which helped spark the modern environmental movement.

These founders provided not only the scientific foundation for our early efforts, but also inspiration for continued environmental progress. They made a lifetime commitment to improving the environment.

Like our founders, Osprey Legacy Society Members are committed to the long term protection of the environment by including EDF in their estate plans.

Join the Osprey Society

The Osprey Legacy Story

Dennis Puleston

EDF co-founder Dennis Puleston investigates an osprey nest

In the 1960s, the pesticide DDT was used widely. DDT is a persistent poison that works its way up the food chain, also endangering people. It caused eggshells to thin and break, threatening the survival of magnificent birds like the osprey, bald eagle and peregrine falcon. On Long Island, New York, a researcher at a small conservation group was documenting the decline of the osprey. He found that unhatched osprey eggs contained significant concentrations of DDT. The group asked the county to stop using DDT. The mosquito control commission replied that DDT killed mosquitoes cheaply and easily, so they would continue using it.

The group then tried a new approach, common today but unheard of in the late 1960s: The scientists teamed up with a lawyer and went to court on behalf of the environment.

After months of preparation, the case was strong. Not only was DDT poisoning birds and crustaceans, but mosquitoes were also becoming resistant to it.

In 1966, the court imposed a ban on DDT. Four years later, the governor enacted a statewide ban, based largely on the testimony from that Long Island case. And in 1972, the lawyers and scientists played a major role in securing a nationwide ban.

The osprey has since made a dramatic recovery, and the bald eagle and peregrine falcon have been removed from the endangered species list.

That first court victory presented the local group with a choice. Because this was the first case of its kind, it roused national interest, "out of all proportion to the actual results achieved." Appeals for help came pouring in from across the country, many more than a small group of volunteers could address.

They decided to organize more formally and raised funds to expand their work. In 1967, they founded Environmental Defense Fund.