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Texas Reader: Texas Legacy Project

Narrative compilation seeks to inspire future conservationists.

By Louie Bond

So often when we look for heroes, we search in all the wrong places: sports arenas, movie theaters, concert halls. Now, thanks to The Texas Legacy Project, the stories of dozens of ordinary heroes are available for daily inspiration. The common thread between them all is a desire to preserve the natural legacy of Texas.

In many ways, this book feels like a living testament to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department mission: It has a foreword penned by TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith, and it features people with ties to TPWD (Andrew Sansom, Carl Frentress, Bob Burleson, Billy Platt Sr., Al Brothers) and others we have lauded in the pages of this magazine (Ned Fritz, John Graves, Ted Eubanks, Benito Trevino, Scooter Cheatham, Geraldine Watson).

Though the participants share a common cause, their backgrounds are as diverse as Texas’ ecoregions. Where else can you find enlightenment from ornithologists and grocers, musicians and ranchers, game wardens and politicians, writers and clergy? In the same way that Smith cites the writing of John Graves as his earliest inspiration to shape a life working in conservation, the authors hope to shape tomorrow’s environmental leaders, no matter which walk of life they may choose to follow.

As East Texas botanist Watson shares: “It’s been my memory of these forests and this land that has inspired me to try to save a little bit of what’s left. I try to restore a little bit of it as it once was.”

Inspiration comes not only from altruism like Watson’s. Sometimes, environmentally sound choices are also the most practical from a business standpoint. Rancher Walt Davis says of holistic land management: “We make our living on this land. If it doesn’t pay, we can’t do it.”

While the book features 60 people from diverse walks of life, authors David Todd and David Weisman actually interviewed hundreds, and many of those discussions are available online for further exploration (as well as other related resources) at www.texaslegacy.org. The book is available from Texas A&M University Press.

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