Marjorie Harris Carr

Marjorie Harris Carr (March 26, 1915 October 10, 1997) was an American environmental activist.

Marjorie Harris Carr
BornMarch 26, 1915
Died10 October 1997(1997-10-10) (aged 82)
NationalityUnited States
Alma materUniversity of Florida
Florida State College for Women
Known forNotable environmentalist
AwardsFlorida Governor’s Award for Outstanding Conservation Leadership (1970), National Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Service Award (1976), New York Zoological Society’s Gold Medal (1978), Florida Audubon Society’s Conservationist of the Year Award (1984), Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Award (1990), Florida Women's Hall of Fame (1996), Florida Wildlife Federation Conservation Hall of Fame (1997)
Scientific career
InstitutionsWelaka Fish Hatchery, Bass Biological Laboratory and Zoological Research Supply Company, Gainesville Garden Club, Alachua Audubon Society, Florida Defenders of the Environment

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Harris was raised in rural Bonita Springs in southwest Florida, where her naturalist parents taught her how to identify the state's native flora and fauna. In 1936, she received a bachelor's degree in zoology from Florida State College for Women, the present-day Florida State University. Denied funding and/or admission to graduate programs in zoology and ornithology due to her gender, Harris took a position as the nation's first female wildlife technician shortly after completing her undergraduate degree. In 1942, with the assistance of her husband, pioneering conservation biologist Archie Carr, Marjorie Harris Carr completed a master's in zoology at the University of Florida, which was still officially an all-male institution. In the late 1940s, the Carrs lived in Honduras, where Archie taught at the Escuela Agrícola Panamericana Zamorano and conducted research on sea turtle migration. The Carrs explored the Honduran rainforest on horseback. Marjorie Carr completed thousands of scientific bird skins and later published her research on the birds of Honduras in the Wilson Bulletin (with J. C. Dickinson Jr.) and CEIBA: A Scientific and Technical Journal.

In the late 1950s, Carr launched her career in conservation and environmental activism in Micanopy, Florida. Her early land preservation efforts included the establishment of Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and the preservation and restoration of Lake Alice (Gainesville, Florida) on the University of Florida campus.

Fight to Save the Ocklawaha River

Carr is best known for her leadership of the successful campaign to protect the Ocklawaha River by challenging the construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project that would have bisected Florida in order to create a shallow barge canal that would link Florida's Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Through Florida Defenders of the Environment (F.D.E.), a coalition of volunteer scientific, legal, and economic experts from the University of Florida and other institutions, Carr used the activist science of ecology to challenge the questionable benefits of the barge canal, which would destroy the Ocklawaha River and disrupt the Ocklawaha Regional Ecosystem. F.D.E. sued the Corps of Engineers in U.S. District Court for violating the public interest. Using an innovative environmental impact statement F.D.E. drafted to bolster its case against the Corps, Carr and her colleagues won a temporary injunction against construction of the canal in January 1971. Days later, President Richard Nixon halted construction of the canal.

Carr led F.D.E.’s ongoing battle to preserve and restore the Ocklawaha River Valley until her death in 1997. The Ocklawaha River remains blocked by Rodman Dam. In 1998, the lands purchased along the canal right-of-way were named the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway in Carr's honor.


  • Macdonald, Peggy, Marjorie Harris Carr: Defender of Florida's Environment (University Press of Florida, 2014). ISBN 0813049350
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