The Forgotten History of Environmental Protection in Texas

A new book with over 300 maps reveals Texas’ historical connection to conservation and the land.

By Laura RiceJuly 4, 2016 11:39 am,

Before there was this thing called the internet, families who could afford to often bought an encyclopedia as a home reference. Typically they came with an atlas as well – a thick book of maps, charts and comparisons. Now Texas has one of its own: an unprecedented exploration of the Texas landscape – through more than 300 maps across 500 pages – revealing the evolution of our relationship with the land.

David Todd is the executive director of the Conservation History Association of Texas and co-author of “The Texas Landscape Project.”

On why he was inspired to take on the project:

“A lot of us think about Texas history in terms of famous places, whether it’s the Alamo and about the bravery and sacrifice there, or about the (Manned Spacecraft Center) down in Clear Lake and about the heroic adventures and exploration there. I think there could also be a way of looking at Texas in terms of famous places for environmental protection about conservation.”

On using map and modern infographics in the book:

“I think that they help invoke what an incredibly diverse and beautiful state we’ve got and maybe help people connect with what they call home.”

On what it was like to put the book together and co-author with Jonathan Ogren:

“It’s been about five years and fortunately Jonathan Ogren is a pleasant guy to work with, so the time went by quickly.”

On some surprising things he learned:

“What’s surprising to me is that how old some of these controversies about conservation are and some of the stories that we go back to really start in the 1800s. … There are these (stories) that go back deep into Texas history.”

On why the project was presented as a book and not another form of media:

“I think some of these issues, these conservation questions, are complicated – they’re complex and they’re deep and it takes a little while to wade through them. We’re hoping that the format of the book will give people the chance to really sort of mull over these issues and percolate on them and see where they come down on them.”

Post by Beth Cortez-Neavel.