NOTE: This is an archive article from 1998. It may contain out-of-date information.
Dorothy Miller has been an active environmentalist for over thirty years. She started as a bird watcher, then learned that one of her favorite birding habitats, the White Clay Creek watershed, was to be disturbed. She has been working ever since then to protect the White Clay Creek and the surrounding area.
She was very active in the original effort to prevent damming of the White Clay Creek. At that time, there was no centralized data on the local flora and fauna that would support the position of the people who were working to preserve the watershed. What data there was existed only in the field notes of Delaware's naturalists. Dorothy interviewed those observers to consolidate their data, which showed the damaging environmental impact that the dam would have. Dorothy believes that the fight was successful in the end because there was so much community support for the effort.
"We had bumper stickers that gathered lots of attention," she says. "People would see a car with one of the bumper stickers on it in a parking lot, and they would wait by the car until the owner came back. They would ask where the bumper sticker came from and how they could help." Dorothy says, "You never really know what worked, so you have to do whatever you can think of. Individual acts themselves probably aren't enough; it probably takes all that you can think of to make it work."
In 1973 Dorothy helped bring together several groups to form the Coalition For Natural Stream Valleys, Inc. She continues to be active in the Coalition, which is now in its 25th year. She currently represents the Coalition on the White Clay Creek Preserve Council. She enjoys this opportunity to advise the Bureau of Parks in Pennsylvania and Parks and Recreation in Delaware on wise use of the land surrounding the White Clay Creek.
Dorothy is also active in her role as Delaware co-chair for the White Clay Creek Wild and Scenic River study. She has been working on refining the management plan, which needs to be approved by the surrounding counties and townships. The next step will be to go back to Congress for the "Wild and Scenic River" designation which she hopes will happen sometime this year.
Dorothy wants people to have a healthy respect for natural resources, especially the stream valleys. "The water is a resource that we have to take care of, and it seems like taking care of the lands around the water is the best way to do that. Every resource like that has lots of competition for it."
Dorothy continues to enjoy watching birds in their habitat. She especially likes to observe them as they go about their day-to-day activities. She also looks forward to the return of the warblers each spring. Dorothy says, "People ask me, 'Don't you get tired of seeing the same birds all the time?' I say, 'No, it's the predictability that's exciting. You know that your old friends will be back at the same time.'"
Even in the face of her noteworthy accomplishments, Dorothy is very modest about her success. "I try to do what I can in my little corner," she says.
For her dedication to the welfare of Delaware's natural stream valleys, Dorothy Miller was awarded the 1998 Delaware Audubon Society Conservation Award.