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.
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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