Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

May 1997


Published in Great Plains Research 7:1 (Spring 1997). Copyright © 1997 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


This is a book of one basic idea: that conservation succeeds best on a "partnership" approach. The opposite of a partnership approach is confrontational environmental politics, which the author regards as on a par-both in its tenor and its results-with a dog fight. The author's central idea is developed with such detail, however, that the reader immediately becomes absorbed not in the unity of the message but in the sheer diversity of details. This diversity falls into three headings: the problems of the area's streams (a land of rivers, Texas has only one natural lake), the necessity of developing a personal environmental ethics, and a survey of the "best places" of the state-some saved, some to be saved, others hanging by a thread.

Texas has been described, perceptively, as a large geographic accident. The author simplifies the accident by dividing it into seven regions: Piney Woods, Post Oak Savanna, Blackland Prairie and Cross Timbers (one region), Rolling and High Plains, Gulf Prairies and Marshes, South Texas Plains, Edwards Plateau (the "Hill Country"), and the Trans-Pecos. One thus moves, circuitously, from the mossed cypress-tupelo swamps of the Deep South to the baked stones of the Chihuahua Desert, step by step. Tours through the "best places" in these regions include accounts of geological, native American, as well as European settler history, and descriptions (highly abbreviated) of past environmental abuse. Beautiful photographs (largely color, occasionally black and white) by Leroy Williamson accompany the author's descriptive prose.