"The late Constance Prosser Mellon rode horses nearly every day and frequently led camping trips to Alaska, where the family matriarch once pulled a guide's bad tooth without any medical assistance. Her sons Richard and Prosser kept raccoons, deer, a fox and skunk as pets while they were children in the 1950s.
"We grew up with the outdoors at the center of our lives," Richard Mellon once said.
Fitting, then, that the Mellon family would quietly launch a land preservation conservation campaign in the late 1970s that now stands as one of the great achievements of the modern American conservation movement: 3.6 million acres of endangered or historically significant sites saved across the country, in all 50 states -- farms and forest and waterfalls and prairies and desert lowlands and meadows and lakes and streams, from the rocky, sea-splattered coast of Maine to the north rim of the Grand Canyon to Hawaiian rain forests.
The amount of money the Mellons spent to save all that land from suburban sprawl or second-home expansion stands at $503 million, all of it funneled through the Richard King Mellon Foundation, with assets of $1.9 billion. It's Pittsburgh's largest philanthropic group and one of the 25 largest in the country.
The family attracted financial partners to help with many of the purchases and donated all the land to federal and state agencies and nonprofit wildlife groups. (Even 19,000 acres in southwest Georgia still owned strictly by family members is used primarily for farming, fishing and quail hunting.)"
Thanks to Chuck Alcorn