Recipient Biography

Nathaniel P. "Nate" Reed

Nathaniel P. "Nate" Reed (1933-2018) received the Pugsley Medal in 1972. He was born in New York City and was raised in Greenwich, Connecticut, and Jupiter Island, Florida. He described the influence of this Florida environment on his formative years in the following terms:
I grew up in Florida, literally in the Indian River, fishing for the bountiful varieties of fish that were abundant in my youth. As I matured, I discovered the mysteries of the Pinewoods, the sweet water streams, the estuaries, the sand lakes, and the cypress stands, all of which I found to be equally fascinating. As I matured I became a critic of the 'all powerful' believers of unlimited growth.
He received a B.A. from Trinity College, Connecticut, in 1955. He served as an officer in the US Air Force military intelligence throughout Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East from 1955-59, retiring with the rank of captain. Following his military service, he returned to Florida and began his civilian career in 1960 as manager of the family upscale real estate and hotel business, centered on Jupiter Island in Hobe Sound on the Atlantic coast in Florida. During the next 11 years, he progressed to become vice-president and president of the Hobe Sound Company which owned the renowned Jupiter Island Club.
His parents had developed Jupiter Island slowly and wisely, protecting hundreds of acres of natural area. Reed's experience and active concern with environmental matters steered him into public life and led to him serving three Florida governors as environmental consultant and to executive positions of  successively greater responsibility. He became deeply involved with the problems of Everglades National Park, estuaries, and other interrelated systems. He was a highly visible and articulate critic of the exploitation and thoughtless destruction of much of Southern Florida by ill-conceived Corps of Engineers and state drainage projects. He observed:
The destrnction of natural ecosystems, including the devastation of the Everglades system, all sacrificed for the 'great god of growth' has heen tragic. The vast majority of Florida's new residents live within 30 miles of our state's long coastlines and have no idea what has been sacrificed in order to give the illusion of flood protection,and an abundance of cheap drinking water.
His visibility resulted in him being invited by Governor Kirk to become Florida's first governor's environmental advisor from 1967-71. The appointment changed his life, and he invested much of the rest of his life to working in the field of policy and politics to protect great ecological values, both in Florida and across the United States. He noted, "While policy and law can institute change, it is only through emotional desire that change comes willingly."
In 1969, following the exposure of years of neglect and lack of enforcement of basic air and water pollution state laws, Reed was appointed chairman of the newly-formed Department of Air and Water Pollution Control. His personal role as liaison between state and federal authorities was central to the reversal of two nationally significant cases of environmental deterioration: the signing in January 1970 of the Florida Jetport Pact which brought a halt to the construction of a jet airport close to the Everglades to service Miami; and the abandonment later in that same year of the Cross-Florida Barge Canal project. During these Florida years, he was credited with a major role in the purchase of 22 new state parks and wilderness areas, and he chaired hearings to establish air quality regions in the state.
In 1971, Reed accepted the invitation of President Nixon to become Assistant Secretary of Interior for Fish, Wildlife and National Parks. He remained in this position through the Ford Administration until 1977. He assembled one of the brightest staffs in Washington. Among his accomplislunents in this position were changes in the Department of Interior's position on the misuse of a coyote poison known as Compound 1,080, which killed thousands of nontarget animals. He vigorously prosecuted eagle hunters and formed an Interior team to ban the use of DDT.
He used his position as a pulpit from which he sought to educate both those in the administration and the general public on the centrality of conservation to American life. He stressed the importance of controlling both the growth of population and the exploration of nonrenewable resources, given the finite nature of planet earth:
I suggest to you that the American dream, based as it is on the concept of unlimited space and resources, has run aground on the natural limits of the earth. It has foundered on the shoals of the steadily emerging environmental crisis, a crisis broadly defined to include not only physical and biological factors, but the social consequences that flow from them. The American dream, so long an energizing force in our society, is withering as growing social and ecological costs generated by decades of relative neglect, overtake the economic and technological gains generated by 'rugged individualism. The earth as a place to live has a limited amount of air, water, soil, minerals, space, and other natural resources, and today we are pressing hard on our resource base. Man, rich or poor, is utterly dependent on his global life-support system.
In 1972, President Nixon appointed Ronald Walker as director of the National Park Service. He was a White House staff aide who knew nothing about either agency administration or national parks. When this happened, Reed, as Walker's immediate supervisor, was forced by default to perform many of the functions normally left to the agency head. In supervising the NPS agency, Reed frequently ignored the inexperienced director and went directly to other agency personnel for information and advice. He made his wishes known to agency administrators directly, thereby bypassing agency leadership. Reed took responsibility for appearing before Congress to justify policies, rather than allowing the NPS director to do this. As a strong environmentalist, he insured the NPS fully adhered to the Wilderness Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Effectively, Reed ran the NPS in those years. When Walker permitted and encouraged MCA, who had purchased the Yosemite Valley concession, to expand its highly profitable operations there, Reed angrily intervened and ordered a new master planning effort which would reverse this policy.
Reed's earlier involvement in thwarting the Miami Jetport proposal convinced him of the need to create a strong science program at Everglades to gather and analyze data in hydrology, geology, ornithology, and other fields that would strengthen the park's defense against future proposed incursions. He successfully engineered its establishment and funding.
Reed returned to Florida following President Ford's defeat where he served seven governors on a wide range of committees and commissions. He is best known as the highly visible chairman of the Commission on Florida's Environmental Future which recommended a $3 billion investment in the remaining best wild lands in Florida, the most ambitious land acquisition program among the states in US history. Two decades and one million acres later, the program continued to be supported by Governor Jeb Bush and the Florida Legislature.
Among his other appointments were to the state of Florida's Constitutional Revision Commission; Reclaimed Land Committee; chairman of the Coastal Zone Committee; South Florida Water Management District; Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council; chairman of Crystal River Manatee Sanctuary committee; 14 years as a member of the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board; a member of the Florida Board of Antiquities; and co-chair of the Florida Greenway Council.
Reed was described by Bmce Babbitt (Pugsley Medal 2000) as "a lean, ruddy aristocratic sportsman who was a Republican in the spirit of Theodore Roosevelt, passionately committed to environmental causes." He became one of Babbitt's most trusted advisers in the 1990s when Babbitt launched the effort to save the Everglades, even though they were in different political parties. He was vice chairman of the National Audubon and of The Nature Conservancy Boards; chairman of the Natural Resources Defense Council; and on the boards of the National Geographic Society, Hope Rural School (a nationally known school for the children of migrant workers), and one of the founders of the 1000 Friends of Florida. He was a member of the Speaker of the House of Representatives' Task Force on Water Issues.
1000 Friends of South Florida Board of Directors.Retrieved February 1, 2004 from http:// IOOO_Friends/Board.asp.
Reed, Nathaniel. (1971-76). Retrieved February 1, 2004 from
Foresta, Ronald A. (1984). America's national parks and their keepers. Washington D.C.:Resources fur the Future, Inc.
Herbst, Robert. (1985). Reed, Nathaniel Prior. In Richard H.Stroud (Ed.) ,National leaders of American conservation, Washington D.C.:Smithsonian Institution.
Reed, Nathaniel P. (1974, August,5). Kilroy is everywhere; everywhere is here. New York Times.
Reed, Nathaniel. (2000). Clyde Butcher, gift to Florida. Clyde Butcher natures place of spiritual sanctuary. Photographs from 1961-1999. Privately Published