From the Pen of Carter Smith
It is a sometimes Herculean but ever-inspiring task, for sure. Some of the best of the best have tried their hand at it and plied their trade by it. Fehrenbach, King and Michener wrote about it. Onderdonk and Salinas painted it. Meinzer and Parent photograph it. Nelson, Tubbs and Wills sang their hearts out about it. And, each summer evening, deep in the bowels of Texas’ grandest of canyons, a gaggle of actors stage a musical about it.
To a one, they have all been seduced with the creative challenge of sharing the rich life, history, heritage, vistas, people, nature and stories of the state we call home. With their words on a page, brushstrokes on a canvas, images through a lens and lyrics of a song, these writers, artists, scholars and musicians have added immeasurably to the lore and love we have of our home ground.
Thanks to the tireless labors of a couple of the state’s most thoughtful and committed conservationists, we have another compelling medium by which to learn a lot more about the Texas landscape. Maps.
Noted environmental historian, attorney, steward and storyteller David Todd, author of The Texas Legacy Project, has teamed up with expert cartographer, environmental scientist and conservation planner Jonathan Ogren to produce The Texas Landscape Project. Their contribution is a comprehensive conservation atlas of sorts, employing impeccably well-researched and masterfully crafted maps to help tell key parts of the environmental history and currency of our state.
Their subject matter is a rich and diverse one, with no shortage of salient and familiar issues and places to choose from. From pictorial representations of the aquifers, springs, rivers, and bay and Gulf waters that sustain us to the sometimes bewildering jumble of local, regional and state regulatory authorities that govern them, the authors combine a mix of informative maps and factual prose to illuminate topics that affect and interest us all.
As my colleague Louie Bond writes in her accompanying piece about The Texas Landscape Project, the authors have managed to distill an exceedingly diverse and complex suite of conservation issues into a highly accessible and comprehensible book. For all who have an interest in understanding the conservation waterfront — or landscape, if you will — this book is well worth the read.
I dare say that it also serves as one more compelling reminder that the state’s 150 million acres of terrestrial wildlife habitats, nearly 200,000 miles of rivers, creeks and streams, hundreds of public lakes and reservoirs, 367 miles of coastline and 4 million acres of bay and estuarine habitats are well worth stewarding and sharing, now and to come.
Thanks for caring about our wild things and wild places. They need you now more than ever.