A Letter from Frances Andrews to National Audubon Directors


April 29, 1954

Gentlemen:

Wishing to convey to you certain of my views and hopes with regard to the use of the Hunt Hill property in Wisconsin, which I am now giving, or will in part later bequeath together with fund, to the National Audubon Society (I recognize the wisdom of not attempting to restrict the action of your present or future Board of Directors in exercising their best discretion in using the property and funds to best carry out the Society’s objectives) may I say that.

It will please me greatly if the Society establishes at Hunt Hill an Audubon Camp, if it can be properly financed and maintained. I am familiar with the programs of your existing camps in Maine and Connecticut, and appreciate that they bring to folk an awareness of their natural surroundings which will cause then to realize the value and need of conservation of natural resources, including their spiritual and physical values to mankind.

The preservation of wilderness areas is of great importance to me and I, therefore, trust that the Society will maintain the Hunt Hill property in its natural condition. in so far as feasible in view of the anticipated Audubon Camp operation there. In connection with the characteristics of a “natural condition” may I mention that in such areas the trees are not cut at maturity. (It is good to live with large and old trees.) Dead and down wood may remain dead and down. And the wild fauna-and flora, too–live their natural lives. For the land is not over-run with humans.

It would seem to me out of keeping with my intent in deed and will were the Society to, at any time, sell the products of the land, such as food, crops, firewood or lumber, and I, therefore hope that it will never do so, as distinct from possible limited and wise non-commercial uses for the benefit of Hunt Hill property, and I trust that no such uses would be made that would detract from the wilderness character of the property.

Also, it is my earnest desire that Hunt Hill, though it happens to be located in Wisconsin, shall be used impartially for the benefit of folk of both Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as for those of other communities.

I hope that, as the Society’s plans develop, it will find it possible to make fruitful uses of the Hunt Hill property in many, if not all, of those months of the year when the Audubon Camp may not be in operation. Such “fruitful uses” might include the extension of privileges to other organizations and individuals, and also the opportunity offered here for conservation research study, provided, of course, that such activities would not conflict with the objectives of the National Audubon Society.

Because of the interest of my family in international affairs and in the tolerance which makes for peace, not only within each nation, but between nations, it is my hope that the Society will, as its plans develop, encourage international participation in the activities at Hunt Hill, thus promoting such interchange of ideas as tends to further international understanding and the spread through the world of true conservation practices.

If in the future, and for reasons unforeseen now, the National Audubon Society would deem it wise to sell — or otherwise dispose of – any or all of its Hunt Hill property, I hope that before doing so, it would explore the possibilities of the ownership and maintenance of it by some other conservation-minded organization, or local group. For there might be those who would wish to take over and maintain Hunt Hill as a wilderness area, or as a combined wilderness area and center for conservation research study, or as a vacation home for foreign students of nearby Universities, or for some other non-commercial project which would recognize the conservation values of Hunt Hill. Also, it is my desire that after such exploration the National Audubon Society alone would have full power of decision in the matter, and that in any case the National Audubon Society would receive compensation for its Hunt Hill investment commensurate with that which it could obtain through sale upon the open market.

Now may I say that I thoroughly appreciate the opportunity to present this property – as outlined above — to the National Audubon Society because I have great faith in the ability and the integrity of your Society, I give it in memory of my mother, Mary Hunt Andrews and my brother, William Hunt Andrews. For it was the wish of my father also, who died but recently, that “Hunt Hill” might remain “Hunt Hill” with its natural interest and beauty preserved.