Nathaniel Pryor Reed
Photo by Mac Stone
Saving Special Places • Building Better Communities
A True Statesman
Nathaniel Pryor Reed passed away on July 11, 2018 as a result of a fishing accident. He left an incredible and lasting legacy – in Florida, across the nation, and internationally – and each of us has benefited from his life-long commitment to protecting our fragile natural lands and waters.
His passion for nature was set when, as a child wintering with his family in Hobe Sound, he waded “every inch of the Indian River.” He was larger than life, with a booming voice, brilliant mind, and unbridled enthusiasm for all things environmental. A true visionary, he realized sooner than most why conservation was so important and what was needed to achieve it. He also could be blunt with those who did not move with sufficient alacrity to resolve problems, be they large or small.
When serving as Assistant Secretary of the Interior under President Nixon and President Ford he helped draft and secure passage of major legislation including the 1972 Clean Water Act and 1973 Endangered Species Act and successfully pushed for banning DDT. While holding federal office he still maintained his commitment to Florida, among other things securing protection and federal funding for the Big Cypress National Preserve.
His public service in Florida is legendary, as was his passion for the Everglades, clean air and water, wildlife, fishing, and managing Florida’s booming growth. He was a respected advisor to Governors from both parties and played an instrumental role in envisioning and advocating for some of the state’s most respected conservation initiatives.
He served on agencies and boards too many to number. He was appointed to the South Florida Water Management District Board by Governor Bob Graham and then subsequent governors, serving for 14 years. He used this platform to continue his career-long push for a plan and state and federal funding for Everglades restoration. Governor Bob Martinez appointed him to chair the Commission on the Future of Florida’s Environment which called for bonding to acquire environmentally sensitive lands, leading to Florida’s landmark program which has resulted in millions of acres of conserved lands.
In addition to playing a key role in the passage of Florida’s 1985 Growth Management Act he also co-founded 1000 Friends of Florida and remained an actively involved guiding force as Chairman Emeritus up until the day of his accident. Shortly before his passing, he asked 1000 Friends to edit and publish a white paper he had spearheaded on the most critical environmental issues facing Florida. Entitled Trouble in Paradise, the paper was dedicated in his memory.
He was a one-of-a-kind, passionate and enthusiastic advocate for Florida’s environment. He leaves a tremendous legacy. We all will miss him and extend our sincere condolences to his wife, Alita, children Nathaniel Jr., Adrian and Lia, and five grandchildren. To find out more about some of Nathaniel’s many accomplishments please see the nomination narrative for his 2011 recognition as a Great Floridian. Also, check out the video the Guardians of Martin County have released as a tribute.
Trouble in Paradise
1000 Friends of Florida was honored to work with Nathaniel on his final project, Trouble in Paradise, a report to educate elected officials and others on the top conservation issues facing our state and workable strategies to address them.