Cover

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Half Title, Title Page, Copyright, Grant Info, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. ix-x

List of Illustrations

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pp. xi-xii

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Foreword

Peter R. Crane

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pp. xiii-xvi

Looking today at the many organizations dedicated to the preservation of open space, the stewardship of landscapes, and the conservation of nature, it is a field of human endeavor that perhaps seems overly crowded. It was not always this way. Within the lifetimes of many who are still active in the environmental movement, these kinds of organizations have proliferated. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xvii-xviii

I never met George Fell. I came to know him in a way that I am sure he would have appreciated: by immersing myself in his voluminous archive. Before and after the Natural Land Institute donated his papers to his undergraduate alma mater, the University of Illinois, I read through school records, journals, personal letters, professional correspondence, reports, pamphlets, ...

Chronology

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pp. xix-xx

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Prologue

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pp. 3-5

To save land, George Fell built not just an institution but several of them, including The Nature Conservancy, the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, and the Natural Land Institute. In doing so he sparked an entire movement to protect the most important natural lands left—no matter how small—from being destroyed. ...

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1. From the Bend of a Beautiful River to the Alcatraz of Conscientious Objector Camps

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pp. 6-31

The Rock River rises in Wisconsin’s Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, the nation’s largest freshwater cattail marsh. It flows south into Winnebago County, Illinois, through a gently rolling landscape sculpted by the outwash of its glacial-era forebear. About halfway along its southwestern course to the Mississippi River, its riverbed bites into limestone. ...

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2. Threatened Lands, Living Museums

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pp. 32-52

The postwar years were a time of major change for George Fell, as indeed they were for the entire country. After his discharge from the Civilian Public Service, he returned home to find Rockford booming. The postwar euphoria fueled a population surge to ninety-three thousand by 1950.1 New bridges spanned the Rock River. ...

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3. The Nature Conservancy: Setting Up the Necessary Structure Ourselves

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pp. 53-91

In light of how formidable The Nature Conservancy is today, it may be tempting to think that it sprang effortlessly, even inevitably, from the Ecologists’ Union. In truth, success was far from certain and the end result different from what was initially envisioned. George Fell took it upon himself to give form to chaos during the start-up years. ...

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4. The Illinois Natural Areas Preservation Act: If at First You Don’t Succeed . . .

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pp. 92-112

In his landmark essay “The Land Ethic,” published posthumously in 1949 in A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold observed that small, scattered natural areas and the significant biotic communities they represented had been effectively “relegated . . . to ultimate extinction.” Leopold reasoned that it was impractical if not impossible for government to own or control such parcels. ...

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5. The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission: Where Once We Were Opportunists

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pp. 113-140

In his career-long quest to preserve natural areas, George Fell suffered several notable setbacks. As relentless as rainwater in search of the sea, however, he let no obstacle impede the ultimate achievement of his goals. When his earliest efforts to cultivate a statewide system of natural areas preservation stalled, he went on to transition the Ecologists’ Union into The Nature Conservancy. ...

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6. Sowing More Acorns, Fighting More Battles

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pp. 141-161

Under George Fell’s leadership, the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission came to function very much as the proactive, independent body he initially envisioned. However, his desire to expand and formalize this independence through legislative action placed him at further odds with the Illinois Department of Conservation, ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 162-168

In his Natural Areas Journal article “The Natural Areas Movement in the United States, Its Past and Its Future,” George Fell provided a detailed comparison between IBM and The Nature Conservancy. Being a self-taught and highly successful investor, he knew “Big Blue” nearly as well as he did “Big Oak Leaf.” ...

Notes

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pp. 169-186

Index

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pp. 187-194