When George Bristol first saw the mountains surrounding East Glacier, Montana, in the early summer of 1961, he was, in his own words, awed to his depths. Thus began a love affair with nature and public parks that has endured for more than fifty years. This same love affair would lead Bristol to become a crusader for America’s national parks and, later, to be largely credited for the rescue of the ailing public park system in his home state.
In On Politics and Parks, Bristol tells his own story in lively prose that includes many intriguing peeks at behind-the-scenes events in Washington, Austin, and elsewhere. Beginning with his upbringing by a widowed young mother with a passion for music and literature, he narrates the converging of influences that led him to an influential political career, including active involvement in national campaigns for Lyndon B. Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Lloyd Bentsen, and Jimmy Carter. After working for the Democratic National Committee and Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, Bristol was asked to join President Clinton’s administration.
However, what he really wanted was a place on the board of the National Park Foundation (NPF). With decades-old images of Glacier still burning brightly in his memory, he helped spearhead efforts to elevate the image of the National Park Service and helped establish a highly successful fundraising strategy for the NPF, giving both organizations greater national awareness and stature.
Having acquired a well-earned reputation for fundraising and effective advocacy, Bristol soon began to do for his home state what he had done for the NPF: solidify support and funding for the Texas park system. Over ten years and five legislative sessions, Bristol, through the Texas Coalition for Conservation, the nonprofit organization he founded, fought for the full claim of Texas state parks to the sporting goods tax. Utilizing his many contacts, his well-honed political sense, and his dogged patience, he forged an alliance that would win the day for everyone who loves the state’s public lands. In 2007, in the last bill passed on the last day of the session, the Texas legislature nearly doubled the operating budget for parks.
On Politics and Parks is at once a lesson in conservation history and a captivating personal memoir that will inform, entertain, and inspire all those who share Bristol’s love for the unspoiled beauty of the outdoors and his commitment to preserve that beauty for future generations.
GEORGE BRISTOL, of Austin, was a consultant on the Ken Burns/Dayton Duncan PBS series The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. The 2009 winner of the Pugsley Medal honoring champions of parks and conservation, he was also a writer-in-residence at the Thinking Like a Mountain Foundation in Fort Davis, Texas. Bristol was also winner of the 2000 PEN Texas Literary Award for Poetry, the First Annual Texas Land & People Award (2007), the Terry Hershey Award (2008), and the Nature Conservancy of Texas Lifetime Achievement Award (2008). In 2008, he received a leadership award from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
What Readers Are Saying:
"With the possible exceptions of President George H. W. Bush and James Baker, there are probably no living Texans who have been as centrally involved with Texas politics for the past 50 years in both Austin and Washington D.C. as George Bristol. . . During the last two decades he has used his enviable political knowledge and know-how to fuel his passion for parks. . . His insights offer lessons on how to fix our broken political system by describing and illustrating how it worked in the past."--John Crompton, Distinguished Professor, Regents Professor, and Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence, Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Sciences, Texas A&M University
"Like the parks he so passionately defends and the democracy he has so devotedly served, George Bristol is both a force of nature and a national treasure. He's also a Texas-bred, natural storyteller, who puts it all together in On Politics and Parks."--Dayton Duncan, writer and co-producer, The National Parks: America's Best Idea
"During most of the 30 years plus I have been active in politics, it has been my good fortune to watch with gratitude the enormous contribution George Bristol has made in so many endeavors--and always with humor, enthusiasm, and a passion for making things better."--Jack Martin, Global Chairman and CEO, Hill-Knowlton Strategies
"George Bristol knows America's Parks and the people who care for them, from the trail crews to Secretaries of the Interior. He is passionate about the preservation of America's beautiful places so that all of us and our descendants can continue to enjoy them. From Texas to Montana to Maine, I have always taken special pleasure in following George's long stride."--David Rockefeller Jr., former chairman, National Park Foundation
“On Politics and Parks is a winning opening volume in the publisher’s new Conservation Leadership series.”—Kirkus Reviews