Florida Historical Society Stetson Kennedy Award
The activists and victories that made Florida a leader in land preservation
"Clay Henderson [is] the undisputed expert on land conservation law in Florida."—Orlando Sentinel
“Anyone who wants to learn more about Florida’s struggle to conserve its many unique natural landscapes will want to read this book. In addition to introducing the historical cast of characters who engaged in land conservation in Florida, Henderson reviews recent land conservation history in the state and provides a treasure trove of stories about strategies, struggles, and successes.”—Christopher F. Meindl, University of South Florida
“If you care about protecting Florida’s unique natural areas and wildlife habitat, Forces of Nature is a must-read. Henderson’s account of how Florida’s most important parks and ecosystems were preserved and the passionate individuals who made it happen will be an inspiration for those who will write the next chapters of our state’s conservation history.”—Will Abberger, conservation finance director, Trust for Public Land
Despite Florida’s important place at the beginning of the American conservation movement and its notable successes in the fight against environmental damage, the full story of land conservation in the state has not yet been told. In this comprehensive history, Clay Henderson celebrates the individuals and organizations who made the Sunshine State a leader in state-funded conservation and land preservation.
Starting with early naturalists like William Bartram and John Muir who inspired the movement to create national parks and protect the country’s wilderness, Forces of Nature describes the efforts of familiar heroes like Marjory Stoneman Douglas and May Mann Jennings and introduces lesser-known champions like Frank Chapman, who helped convince Theodore Roosevelt to establish Pelican Island as the first national wildlife refuge in the United States. Henderson details how many of Florida’s activists, artists, philanthropists, and politicians have worked to designate threatened land for use as parks, preserves, and other conservation areas.
Drawing on historical sources, interviews, and his own long career in environmental law, Henderson recounts the many small victories over time that helped Florida create several units of the national park system, nearly thirty national wildlife refuges, and one of the best state park systems in the country. Forces of Nature will motivate readers to join in defending Florida’s natural wonders.
Clay Henderson is an environmental lawyer and educator who has worked to protect Florida land since the 1980s. Henderson drafted or sponsored many of the environmental provisions in the Florida Constitution, including the creation of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Everglades Trust Fund. He has served as president of the Florida Audubon Society and executive director of Stetson University’s Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience.
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