Recommended Books

Home 5 Recommended Books
Land Stewardship & Conservation
Seasons at Selah: The Legacy of Bamberger Ranch Preserve
Author: Andrew Sansom
Photography by Rusty Yates and David K. Langford
In 1969, J. David Bamberger bought what he described as “the sorriest piece of land” in the Texas Hill Country for the specific purpose of restoring the degraded landscape. Today, Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve is one of the largest habitat restoration projects in the state—5,500 acres—and serves as a model for land conservation and environmental education. The ranch has earned numerous awards, including the coveted Leopold Conservation Award, the Texas Environmental Excellence Award in Education, the National Private Lands Fish and Wildlife Stewardship Award, and most recently, the Botanical Research Institute of Texas International Award of Excellence in Conservation, just to name a few.

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The Cedar Choppers: Life on the Edge of Nothing
Author: Ken Roberts

At the low-water bridge below Tom Miller Dam, west of downtown Austin, during the summer of his tenth or eleventh year, Ken Roberts had his first encounter with cedar choppers. On his way to the bridge for a leisurely afternoon of fishing, he suddenly found himself facing a group of boys who clearly came from a different place and culture than the middle-class, suburban community he was accustomed to. Rather, “. . . they looked hard—tanned, skinny, dirty. These were not kids you would see in Austin.” When Roberts’s fishing companion curtly refused the strangers’ offer to sell them a stringer of bluegills, the three boys went away, only to reappear moments later, one of them carrying a club. Roberts and his friend made a hasty retreat. This encounter provoked in the author the question, “Who are these people?” The Cedar Choppers: Life on the Edge of Nothing is his thoughtful, entertaining, and informative answer.

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Hill Country Landowner’s Guide
Author: Jim Stanley

In this invaluable new book, Jim Stanley charts a practical course for understanding and handling a variety of problems that both new and established landowners in the Texas Hill Country will confront—from brush control, grazing, and overpopulation of deer to erosion, fire, and management of exotic animals and plants.

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Deer Pasture
Author: Rick Bass

Three generations of Bass men have hunted deer on the same land in the Texas Hill Country. This volume of essays captures the spirit of the hunt and the family ties that bind a young man to a piece of earth.

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Enchanted Rock: A Natural and Human History
Author: Lance Allred

Surprisingly, given the area’s wealth of unusual geology, native plants and animals, and human history, no comprehensive guide to Enchanted Rock has been published before now. In Enchanted Rock, you’ll find everything you need to fully appreciate this unique place. Lance Allred draws on the work of specialists in many fields to offer a popular account of the park’s history, geology, weather, flora, and fauna. Whether you want to know more about how Enchanted Rock was formed, identify a wildflower or butterfly, or learn more about plant communities along the hiking trails, you’ll find accurate information here, presented in an inviting style.

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Water from Stone: The Story of Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve
Author: Jeffrey Greene
Illustrations: Margaret Bamberger

Award-winning author Jeffrey Greene provides a portrait, by turns lyrical and provocative, of J. David Bamberger’s unlikely transformation from first, a vacuum cleaner salesman, then to co-founder and CEO of Church’s Fried Chicken, to an internationally recognized conservationist. In fact, Greene tells two integrally related stories: the evolution of one man’s business sense, applying profit incentives to land restoration and nature conservancy; and the creation of a Texas Hill Country preserve where he effectively demonstrates his own principles.

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A Beginner’s Handbook for Rural Texas Landowners: How to Live in the Country Without Spoiling It
Author: Jim Stanley

Living in the country in Texas can be the most enjoyable experience of your life, but managing rural property is not the same as taking care of a half-acre suburban lot. Living in the country and taking care of the land involves issues many new landowners have not experienced before. This book discusses why it is so important that rural land in Texas be well-managed and the native flora and fauna be protected.

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The Texas Legacy Project: Stories of Courage and Conservation
Edited by: David Todd and David Weisman

This book holds stories from more than sixty people who represent a variety of causes, communities, and walks of life…each speaks from the heart in personal reminiscences and first-hand accounts of battles fought for land and wildlife, for public health, and for a voice in media and politics.

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Fog at Hillingdon
Author: David K. Langford
Foreword: Andrew Sansom

While fog does not come easily or frequently to Central Texas, when it does, it inspires moments of quiet and reflection. David K. Langford captures those moments here in stirring images of the comings and goings of fog on Hillingdon Ranch, family land that has benefited from the stewardship of six generations. These photographs in turn inspired an essay by writer Rick Bass that takes him back to his own memories of fog—in the Texas Hill Country and elsewhere.

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The Blanco River
Author: Wes Ferguson
Photography: Jacob Croft Botter
Foreword: Andrew Sansom

River travelers Ferguson and Botter tell the remarkable story of this changeable river, confronting challenges and dangers as well as rare opportunities to see parts of the river few have seen. The authors also photographed and recorded the human response to the destruction of a beloved natural resource that has become yet another episode in the story of water in Texas.

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Spanish Water, Anglo Water
Author: Charles Porter

St. Edwards University professor Charles Porter delivers a very fine history of San Antonio’s settlement, development, politics; and the water supply system that made it all possible. Spanish Water, Anglo Water is an excellent primer on the politics and evolution of Texas’ surface and groundwater laws and policies as they directly relate to the springs that have sustained the Alamo City’s populations from pre-history to the present.

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Major and Historical Springs of Texas Vol. I
Author: Gunnar Brune

In 1975, Gunner Brune produced a comprehensive catalog of 281 springs in Texas as the Texas Water Development Board’s, Technical Report #189. In 1981, Volume I was published by Arlington Press and was expanded to 183 of 254 Texas counties. This publication has pulled together maps and information on major and historically significant springs in Texas, from ground-water reports, surface-water reports, historical documents, and field investigations. Helen C. Besse is in the process of an updated Vol. II, which will cover the remaining 71 counties of the state. Though Vol. I is available on-line, the book itself is out of print, expensive, and indispensable.

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Flash Floods in Texas
Author: Jonathan Burnett

Jonathan Burnett has compiled a history of the State’s major flash flooding events, their climatic causes and human tolls. This book contains plenty of historical photographs, hydrographs, and accounts from contemporary news articles from 1900 to 2002. Effortlessly readable, and compelling from both the scientific and human viewpoints, Mr. Burnett has delivered a cracking good historical read.

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Blue Covenant
Author: Maude Barlow

Barlow examines how water companies are reaping vast profits from declining supplies, and how ordinary people from around the world have banded together to reclaim the public’s right to clean water, creating a grassroots global water justice movement. While tracing the history of international battles for the right to water, she documents the life-and-death stakes involved in the fight and lays out the actions that we as global citizens must take to secure a water-just world for all. As people around the world turn their attention to the effects of climate change, Blue Covenant is a timely and important reminder for us to take heed of the global water crisis’s impact on humans and the natural world.

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EARIP Heads Above WaterHeads above Water
Author: Robert L. Gulley

In this book, Gulley tells the inside story of the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program (EARIP), a federally sponsored process put in place by the Texas legislature. How such a large and fractious group came together to resolve one of the nation’s most intractable and longstanding water problems serves as a case study in consensus building.

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Blue Gold
Authors: Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke

Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke, two of the most active opponents to the privatization of water show how, contrary to received wisdom, water mainly flows uphill to the wealthy. Our most basic resource may one day be limited: our consumption doubles every twenty years—twice the rate of population increase. At the same time, increasingly transnational corporations are plotting to control the world’s dwindling water supply. In England and France, where water has already been privatized, rates have soared, and water shortages have been severe. The major bottled-water producers—Perrier, Evian, Naya, and now Coca-Cola and PepsiCo—are part of one of the fastest-growing and least-regulated industries, buying up freshwater rights and drying up crucial supplies.

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The Living Waters of Texas
Edited: by Ken Kramer

In ten impassioned essays, veteran Texas environmental advocates and conservation professionals step outside their roles as lawyers, lobbyists, administrators, consultants, and researchers to write about water. Their personal stories of what the springs, rivers, bottomlands, bayous, marshes, estuaries, bays, lakes, and reservoirs mean to them and to our state come alive in the landscape photography of Charles Kruvand.

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Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity
Author: Sandra Postel

Sandra Postel explains that decades of profligacy and mismanagement of the world’s water resources have produced signs of shortages and environmental destruction. She writes with authority and clarity of the limits-ecological, economic, and political-of this vital natural resource. She explores the potential for conflict over water between nations, and between urban and rural residents. And she offers a sensible way out of such struggles. Last Oasis makes clear that the technologies and know-how exist to increase the productivity of every liter of water. But citizens must first understand the issues and insist on policies, laws, and institutions that promote the sustainable use of water.
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Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About it
Author: Robert Glennon

In a book that is both frightening and wickedly funny, acclaimed author Robert Glennon captures the tragedy–and irony–of water in America. From the Vegas Strip to faux snow in Atlanta, from our supersized bathrooms to mega-farms, from billion-dollar water deals to big time politics and personalities, Unquenchable tells the shocking stories of extravagances and waste that are sucking the nation dry.

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Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and Thinking in a Changing World
Authors: Brian Walker PhD, David Salt

An essential guidebook to a powerful new way of understanding our world-and of living resiliently within it-developed in recent decades by an international team of ecologists. With five clear and compelling case studies drawn from regions as diverse as Florida, Sweden, and Australia, this book shows how all highly adaptive systems-from ecologies to economies-go through regular cycles of growth, reorganization, and renewal and how our failures to understand the basic principles of resilience have often led to disaster.

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Sprawl CostsSprawl Costs: Economic Impacts of Unchecked Development
Authors: Robert Burchell, Anthony Downs, Sahan Mukherji, Barbara McCann
The environmental impacts of sprawling development have been well documented, but few comprehensive studies have examined its economic costs. In 1996, a team of experts undertook a multi-year study designed to provide quantitative measures of the costs and benefits of different forms of growth. Sprawl Costs presents a concise and readable summary of the results of that study.

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ffirs.rev.qxdAmerican Dream and the Economic Myth
Author: Betty Sue Flowers

Property is a thing. Happiness is an ideal, a story of the future created by the imagination. The American dream, even when it takes material form, is a wish the heart makes in its pursuit of happiness. It is an act of the imagination made vivid by the life and liberty that allow us to pursue it with hope. Read and share one of our timeless favorite pieces by Betty Sue Flowers.

Thrifty GreenThrifty Green: Ease Up on Energy, Food, Water, Trash, Transit, Stuff — and Everybody Wins
Author: Priscilla Short

In Thrifty Green, Short offers a unique, resource-by-resource approach that shows us that the best way to practice conservation, the real win-win, involves saving money as we lighten up. Peppered with examples of people living both on and off the grid, eccentric and ordinary, who are deliberately making choices to live with less, Thrifty Green is much more than a how-to book. It is a conscientious guide to the art of going green that includes a wealth of terrific tips, fun facts, and straightforward strategies that will make you think about conservation in a whole new way.

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Partner Book Listings

Native American Seed lists and sells more than 70 books on their website. These books cover a variety of topics ranging from field guides to native flora and fauna to children’s stories to instructional guides for land management.

The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment maintains a book list which focuses primarily on Texas water. Many of these books have been produced by current and former staff and Fellows for The Meadows Center.

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