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A Tribute to Edward C. Fritz:
Environmental Defender,
Activist, and Author
"The father of Texas wilderness"

In December of 2008, environmental activist and trailblazer Ned Fritz died at the age of 92. Ned, who devoted much of his life to fighting clearcutting, was the original author of The Clearcutting Restraint Act (H.R. 2406), sponsored by Congressman John Bryant, the bill that later evolved into The Act to Save America’s Forests.

Fritz’s career as an environmental activist began in the 1950s when, as a trial lawyer, he began to advocate for species and land protection. At the time of his death, Fritz was still working to save land in Texas from highway development. As a legal advocate for conservation, Ned was the first person to file a lawsuit under the National Environmental Policy Act. Over the course of his career, Fritz wrote three books, founded the Texas Nature Conservancy and the Texas League of Conservation Voters, fought for major environmental legislation, and won numerous awards for his lifetime of service. One of Ned’s biggest land preservation victories, the Big Thicket National Preserve, outside Beaumont, Texas, which Ned is credited with saving, will allow future generations to share in his love of nature. Ned will surely be missed, not only by those who knew him personally, but by those of us who have benefitted from his efforts to protect land and enforce environmental law.

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Save America's Forests invites Ned's friends and colleagues, as well as admirers of Ned's work, to submit tributes to him on this webpage. Please e-mail your tribute to:

info (at) SaveAmericasForests.org

Include "Ned Fritz Tribute" in the email subject line.

Or, phone us at 202-544-9219

Timeline of Ned Fritz's Career

Here are a few highlights from Ned's venerable career. The list is not comprehensive, as we need to find the correct dates for some events.

1916: Fritz born

1938: Received his BA from the University of Chicago

1940: Received his law degree from Southern Methodist University

World War II: Navy flight instructor. Ned taught George H. W. Bush to fly.

1949: Addressed a state-wide meeting of Texas Democrats

1959: Lobbied the Texas Legislature to maintain the protected status of Harris’s Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus)

1964: Founded Texas Nature Conservancy

1969: Led the push for the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA)

1970: Founded Texas League of Conservation Voters

1972: Fought for environmental change, arguing in court that the state and federal organizations charged with protecting air and water had, “succumbed to the influence of those they are supposed to regulate.”

1974: Ned became a “full-time volunteer for the environment”

1975: Awarded Nature Conservancy’s Oak Leaf Award

1976: Drafted key provisions to the National Forest Management Act of 1976

1982: Founded Natural Area Preservation Association (NAPA)

1983: Sterile Forest published (Eakin Press)

1987: Realms of Beauty published (University of Texas Press)

1989: Clearcutting: A Crime Against Nature published (Eakin Press)

1989: "The Clearcutting Restraint Act", written by Ned, was first introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative John Bryant, Democrat from Dallas, Texas, as H.R. 2406. The bill would be modified and reintroduced two years later as the "Forest Biodiversity and Clearcutting Prohibition Act", H.R. 1969. (In 1996, Representative Bryant introduced an expanded version of the legislation called The Act to Save America’s Forests.)

1991: Receives a Teddy Roosevelt Award for conservation from President George H.W. Bush

1992: Awarded an honorary doctorate from his Alma Mater, Southern Methodist University

2000: Lifetime Achievement Award from National Audubon Society

2002: Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation

2007: Awarded the Daughter’s of the American Revolution Conservation Medal

2007-2008: Fought against Trinity Toll Road in Texas

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"If unified with all the people who abhor clearcutting, these groups have the energy and resources to move Congress into action.

They could all join forces on a comprehensive bill or packet of bills that would accomplish full forest reform."

From Sterile Forest by Ned Fritz


"When I watch the devastation of clearcutting, I understand what is involved. The forest service would have us believe that there is no sunstantial soil and nutrient loss associated with clearcutting. Following a massive clearcutting on the Gauley Range ranger district on our Monongahela National Forest, the cranberry river--a beautiful river, a river of brook trout, a magnificent stream--for a seven week period ran muddy as if it were a lowland stream and not in the hills of West Viginia. I see that and I know that there is a substanial loss of soil and a substantial loss of nutrients within the land.

"So my concern is that I do not believe we know what the long-range effects of clearcuts will be on the ability of land to regenerate."

From Realms of Beauty: The Wilderness Areas of East Texas by Ned Fritz


"Old growth and intermediate communities have other values, as well. They serve as living museums to educate present and future generations on the natural heritage of their region. They provide authentic laboratories where scientists may engage in research on such vital subjects as survival and evolution. And they constitute gene pools for substances products useful to humankind."

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