Legendary conservationist Nat Reed dies at 84

picture of Nat Reed
Nathaniel Reed

One of the most prominent conservationists in Florida, Nathaniel Pryor Reed, died Wednesday. Reed was 84 and passed away after falling and hitting his head while on his annual Canadian salmon fishing trip. Reed was a lifelong resident of Jupiter Island on Florida’s southeast coast.

“In a long career spent both in and out of government service, Mr. Reed co-wrote the Endangered Species Act, helped stop the construction of the world’s largest airport in the Big Cypress Swamp, and later founded the group 1000 Friends of Florida,” reads a story by Craig Pittman in today’s Tampa Bay Times.

“Mr. Reed’s love of fishing was so deep and abiding that his mother joked he had emerged from the womb with a fly rod in his hand. Mr. Reed had often told his family, ‘It would be perfect if I could catch one last, perfect salmon before I go.’

‘He just about pulled it off,’ said his son, Adrian.’”

President Richard Nixon appointed Reed deputy secretary of the Department of the Interior, where he nurtured some of the nation’s most enduring environmental laws, including the 1973 Endangered Species Act.

Reed served on the board of the South Florida Water Management District, where he was a tireless and outspoken advocate for restoring the Everglades. He served on many environmental group boards, and continued to be active right up to the end of his life.

One environmental attorney says he received a phone call last week, with Reed wanting to know all the details of the recent stunning court decision for citizens ruling that the state has misspent the land-buying money that 75 percent of voters approved when they passed the landmark Water and Land Conservation Amendment to the state Constitution in 2014.

Julie Hauserman
Julie Hauserman has been writing about Florida for more than 30 years. She is a former Capitol bureau reporter for the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times, and reported for The Stuart News and the Tallahassee Democrat. She was a national commentator for National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday and The Splendid Table . She has won many awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. Her work is featured in several Florida anthologies, including The Wild Heart of Florida , The Book of the Everglades , and Between Two Rivers . Her new book is Drawn to The Deep, a University Press of Florida biography of Florida cave diver and National Geographic explorer Wes Skiles.

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