Roland Clement Papers
Roland C. Clement was born in 1912 in Fall River, Massachusetts, the oldest of seven children. His interest in the natural environment began at a very young age with the exploration of the woods and trails near his home and at the family cottage at South Watuppa Pond on the east side of Fall River. At fourteen, his work on Boy Scout Bird study badge reinforced his interest in ornithology.
In 1934, during the Great Depression, he was able to pursue his interest in ornithology when he began banding birds with Maurice Broun at the O.L. Austin Ornithological Research Station on outer Cape Cod. Broun soon became the warden of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Eastern Pennsylvania, and the two remained friends and maintained a long correspondence. Clement studied Wildlife Management at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, graduating in 1940. In 1942 he edited the New England Bulletin of Bird Life, a monthly publication of the Boston Museum of Natural History, and had the opportunity to work with Ludlow Griscom of Harvard University.
In 1943, he enlisted in the Air Force where he volunteered for weather school. He attended in-station training in Lake Charles, LA, where he was introduced to managers of the big coastal Fish and Wildlife Refuges, in particular, John Lynch who was in charge of food habits research for the Gulf Coast Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. After five months in Louisiana, Mr. Clement volunteered for arctic duty and entered training at the Buckley Field, Colorado. After training he was assigned to the Goosebay Station in Labrador where he remained from September, 1943 to August, 1944. The sheltered basin of the lower Hamilton River and the head of Lake Melville, the site of Goosebay afforded him the perfect opportunity to study the surrounding wilderness.
After being promoted to Technical Sergeant, he was asked to take charge of weather duties at the remote George River’s Indian House Lake in the interior of Labrador. Clement was a member of and eight-man crew flown into the isolated weather station in August of 1944. While at Indian House Lake, he extensively studied birds and small mammals and later published two life histories based on these studies. He later returned to Labrador to spend six weeks investigating the breeding biology and behavior of the White-crowned sparrow in 1957 and in 1958 returned with the specific objective of finding the nest and eggs of the Short-billed Dowitcher.
After the war, Mr. Clement took advantage of the G.I. Bill and matriculated at Brown University where he majored in botany and minored in geology, followed by graduate study in wildlife conservation at Cornell University. After graduating from Cornell, he served as the Executive Director of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island from 1950 to 1958. During that time he also taught at Brown University as well as the Rhode Island College of Education and he and his wife Muriel led tours of Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula.
In 1958, Clement was invited to join the National Audubon Society (NAS) in New York City. He began his career with the NAS as membership secretary but was quickly promoted to staff biologist and then to staff ecologist. While at the NAS, he served under three presidents, including: John H. Baker , Carl W. Buchheister and Elvis Stahr. One of Baker’s major initiatives was the expansion of the Society’s sanctuary system and Clement was put in charge of sanctuaries. This led to his involvement in several threatened species programs: including the whooping crane, bald eagle, peregrine falcon and the California condor. The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in southwest Florida, became a key Audubon sanctuary in the mid 1950’s. This sanctuary harbored the largest Wood Stork nesting colony in the United States and its acquisition was a major success of the Audubon Society.
One of Clement's chief accomplishments with the NAS was his involvement with the chemical pesticides problem. Linda Lear, the Rachel Carson biographer, called him “the best of Carson’s public defenders”. He also served on the Environmental Advisory Committee to the Army Corps of Engineers from 1970 to 1974 and as Chairman of the EAB from 1971 to 1974. For four years prior to his retirement he appointed himself to study the conservation problems in Latin America and reported on the destruction of the tropical forests by international corporations aided by government subsidies. He ended his career with NAS as Vice-President, retiring in 1977.
Some of his achievements during his long and distinguished career include: Chairman, International Council for Bird Preservation; Chairman of the Environmental Advisory Board to the U.S.Army Corps of Engineers; Trustee, Environmental Defense Fund; U.S.Director, World Wildlife Fund; and Richard King Mellon Fellow, Yale School of Forestry. He was a member of the first Long Island Sound Study Committee, Chairman of the Norwalk, CT Planning and Zoning Commission and a founding member of the Aton Forest Board.