In a dazzling tribute to the Texas coast, conservationist and lawyer Jim Blackburn has teamed with photographer Jim Olive to give us the most intimate and important portrait yet of Texas bays and of those who work for their wise use and preservation. While giving life and sustenance to plants, animals, and people, the bays and estuaries of Texas have other stories to tell – about freshwater inflows, deep port construction, disappearing oyster beds, beach resorts, industrial pollution, and more. At a certain point, each story brings opposing forces into the courtroom for vigorous debates on the future of some of our most valuable and irreplaceable resources.
The Book of Texas Bays is a personal account of legal battles won and lost, but it is also a fine work of natural history by someone who has a deep spiritual connection to the Texas coast and all it has to offer. Jim Olive's stunning photographs present us with a dramatic perspective of our relationship with the Gulf and remind us of both the grandness and the fragility of our coastal treasures.
Jim Blackburn, an attorney specializing in environmental law at BlackburnCarter Law Firm in Houston, USA, is adjunct professor and lecturer at Rice University, USA where he teaches environmental law. In 2001 he received the National Wildlife Federation's National Conservation Achievement Award, and in 1998 the Bob Eckhardt Lifetime Achievement Award from the General Land Office of the State of Texas.
"[...] intriguing book about Texas coastal bays [...] Far more than a picture book [...] an effortless read."
– Southern Living
"A masterpiece on Texas bays and those dedicated to preserving them."
– Texas Aggie
"[...] is not what it appears to be at first glance – it's better."
– Austin American-Statesman
" [...] a marvelous read about an area that has a great deal of pertinence to all of us living along the Central Gulf Coast [...] This is a truly exceptional book [...] [It] is filled with philosophy and good information, including some insightful narrative about the resources, the people, and concerns about the future."
– Victoria Advocate
"There is no other publication available that treats so thoroughly and concisely the environmental problems along the Texas coast and the battles that have been waged to conserve our coastal treasures [...] As an environmental lawyer, the author has been personally involved in many of the hearings and court battles that have taken place in an effort to preserve these resources. He has an excellent reputation among conservation and educational groups, and he knows the people involved at each step in the process, from the biologists and ecologists to the commercial fishermen and shrimpers who ply the coastal strand. No one is better suited to write these accounts. Blackburn brings a unique perspective to his work, discussing the legal machinations while, at the same time, reveling in the delights of recreation in this land of surf and sand and sun. The reader is treated to the joys of wade-fishing or kayaking in a quiet bay as well as the mysterious federal and state permitting processes that often take place behind closed doors."
– John and Gloria Tveten, Nature writers/Photographers
"[...] a valuable addition to the study of one area of the natural history of Texas, the gulf coastline and its bays, and estuaries. It is, of course, even more that: it is a running account fo the legal battles that Blackburn has fought to protect this environment; it is a personal account of the author's experience on the waters he tries to protect, his sense of that place; and it provides the historical background necessary for understanding our current situation. In other words, it is a remarkable combination of approaches to the status of our bays and estuaries – personal, ecological, political, and more [...] a fascinating, often passionate book about a principal feature of the Texas environment. Jim Blackburn, it is clear, has done far more than most to protect that place that he so treasures. How and why he has accomplished this is abundantly clear in his book. Ideally, we would have a presentation like this about each of Texas's ecoregions."
– Walter W. Isle, Vice Provost, Academic Affairs, Rice University
"Jim Blackburn, one of the great thinkers in our environmental profession, skillfully blends law, regulation, science, and spirituality into the major issues affecting the sustainable ecological and environmental development of the bays, wetlands, estuaries, and drainage basins which constitute this sensitive coastline. This book is a must-read for engineers, scientists, policymakers, scholars, and students, regardless of their political or environmental persuasion."
– Davis L. Ford, Consulting Environmental Engineer
"This book is superb. Jim Blackburn is a splendid writer who writes charmingly about the un-charming assaults on the Texas Gulf Coast. He has fought in all the major battles of that war, for which Texans owe him a huge debt of gratitude."
– Edward H. Harte, founder, Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies