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Nathaniel Reed, Tireless Environmental Advocate, Dies at 84

Nathaniel Pryor Reed, a tireless environmental advocate who helped craft the U.S. Endangered Species Act, has died in Quebec. He was 84.

Adrian Reed told The Associated Press his father fell and clipped his head on a rock July 3 after catching and releasing a salmon on the Grand Cascapedia River, one of his favorites in Canada. He never regained consciousness, and died Wednesday.

Reed, a committed Republican, worked with Florida GOP Gov. Claude Kirk to block construction of what would have been the world’s largest airport, destroying much of the Everglades and the Big Cypress Swamp. He later became assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior under Presidents Nixon and Ford. In that role, Reed helped preserve more than 100 million (40 million hectares) of parks and wildlife refuges in Alaska and worked with Congress to shape legislation that also included the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Convention and key amendments to the Clean Water Act.

“Please let everyone know that he was a fighter at his core, that he felt allowing despoliation of the environment to be a real and unacceptable sin,” Adrian Reed said.

Reed was the son of a New York theater producer and grew up on Hobe Sound, north of West Palm Beach on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. The Tampa Bay Times reports that as a child he was intrigued by the beauty around him and began collecting butterflies and keeping track of the kinds of birds he spotted. He later was able to publicize the dangers of DDT and impose a ban on the use of a coyote-killing poison called 10-80, the newspaper reported.

Reed also founded the powerful 1,000 Friends of Florida group, and helped lead the Everglades Foundation and the Florida Conservation Coalition.

Sen. Bill Nelson called Reed a “true friend” on Twitter, and suggested naming the new reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee after him.

“Our family hopes that he will continue to inspire many more generations of Americans to stand up to powerful, seemingly invincible forces of greed and corruption,” Adrian Reed said.

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