Noted "Force of Nature" Terry Hershey Has Passed Away

The conservationist was one of the great champions of Houston's oft-overlooked natural side.

By Katharine Shilcutt January 19, 2017

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Terry Hershey Park covers 500 acres along Buffalo Bayou in west Houston.

The woman whose fierce love for Houston's bayous and greenspaces earned her a 500-acre park named in her honor, Terry Hershey, has died at 94, as first reported by the Houston Chronicle. Hershey first moved to Houston in the 1950s, where she quickly developed a passion for protecting the waterways in her own Memorial backyard.

A decade later, the conservationist was shocked to discover Army Corps of Engineers plans to channelize and straighten a long portion of Buffalo Bayou. Together with then-newly-elected state congressman George H. W. Bush, she helped persuade Congress not to provide funds for the project. Bush would later fondly refer to his friend as a "force of nature" whose passion for Houston's natural environment charmed everyone from the future president to energy giant George Mitchell.

"Their work culminated with the passage in 1972 of the National Environmental Policy Act," writes Kim McGuire in the Chronicle, "which among other things requires federal agencies to notify the public of plans that could have any negative environmental impact."

The park named for Terry Hershey opened in 1989, its trails eventually connecting all the way from Beltway 8 to Highway 6. A leafy paradise in the middle of a city, it's often difficult to remember you're even in Houston when you're walking the banks of Buffalo Bayou, biking the Anthills, or paddling down a waterway teeming with native flora and fauna.

We suggest a visit to the park this weekend to honor Terry Hershey's work; we can't think of anything she would enjoy more.

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