Maritime man dedicates life to conserving nature
Published Wednesday, November 12, 2014 9:13PM AST
A rare piece of Nova Scotia nature has been protected, thanks to the generosity of a conservationist.
Rudy Haase has championed environmental causes in the United States and Canada since the movement began decades ago.
“Wilderness is the preservation of the world. There's so little of it left. We have to save every little bit we can,” says Haase.
Most recently, the 92-year-old helped the Nova Scotia Nature Trustsave 54 hectares of old growth forest along the St. Mary's River,near Sherbrooke.
“The piece of property that we have the chance to protect is one of the last really nice old growth forests left in the province, 99.9 per cent are gone,” says Bonnie Sutherland of the Nova Scotia Nature Trust.
When Sutherland met up with Haase in late October they had less than a month until the land hit the open market.
“He came up to me at the dinner and put a cheque in my hand for $100,000 and said, ‘I really want to make sure this happens.' So, it was an incredible gesture on his part,” says Sutherland.
The money is a no-interest loan that allowed the Nova Scotia Nature Trust to buy and protect the property. It is the fourth time Haase has come through for them.
“This money that I loaned to the Nova Scotia Nature Trust, which is much more than I could afford to donate, had actually just been returned to me by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust,” says Haase.
Sutherland says Hasse is an inspiration.
“Decades of going up against the odds and making things happen,” she says.
Haase’s list of accomplishments and the stories he has collected in his 92 years are remarkable. For instance, how many people can say they went sailing with Albert Einstein? Haase can.
“When Einstein came visiting one time, he said 'any chance I could go sailing?' and someone said 'that's Rudy's boat,' so guess who went sailing with Einstein?”
Haase was just a teenager at the time, attending North Carolina’s Black Mountain College, where Einstein would occasionally teach.
“People said, 'what did you talk about with Einstein?' and we talked about sailing. He said when he lived near Berlin he had a very similar boat on the lake.”
Haase had another brush with celebrity while he was a young naval officer stationed at the Philadelphia Naval Yard during the Second World War.
“Grace Kelly, who was a teenager at that time, was doing her thing for the war effort by being a hostess at the officer's club and so I danced several dances with Grace Kelly and some people think that's better than taking Einstein sailing,” says Haase.
He also met John F. Kennedy in the Philippines during the war.
“I was introduced to him as the son of that rich Joseph P. Kennedy.”
During his presidency, at Haase's urging, Kennedy put pressure on Costa Rica's president to save much of the rain forest there.
But these days Haase is focused on saving Nova Scotia’s forests, which have been a big part of his life since he moved his family to the province in 1967.
“The most important aspects of forest land is to protect the environment. Our land and water depends upon forests.”