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Catalog Archive / Spring 2020

Force of Nature
George Fell, Founder of the Natural Areas Movement
Foreword by Peter R. Crane


Outstanding Achievement Award, the Illinois State Historical Society

Efforts to preserve wild places in the United States began with the allure of scenic grandeur: Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon. But what about the many significant natural sites too small or fragile to qualify as state or federal parks? George Fell was determined to save these places, too—prairie remnants, upland forests, sedge meadows and fens, ocean beaches, desert canyons, mountain creeks, bogs, caves and gorges, and the full spectrum of other habitats essential to biological diversity.

Force of Nature reveals how a failed civil servant, with few assets apart from his tenacity and vision, initiated the natural areas movement. In the boom years following World War II, as undeveloped lands were being mined, drained, or bulldozed, Fell transformed a loose band of ecologists into The Nature Conservancy, drove the passage of the influential Illinois Nature Preserves Act, and helped spark allied local and national conservation organizations in the United States and beyond.





“Reveals how a failed civil servant, with few assets apart from tenacity and vision, initiated the natural areas movement.”
Northeastern Naturalist

“The inspiring story of the innovative conservation institutions and legislation instigated by George Fell and his wife, Barbara, highlighted by the Nature Conservancy, arguably the largest environmental organization in the world.”
—Stephen Laubach, author of Living a Land Ethic

“George Fell sparred with fellow naturalists and politicians to bring into being organizations that are models for today's worldwide conservation efforts. Pearson documents this extraordinary life with a wide range of sources, including interviews over two decades with both Fell's partners and his doubters.”
—James Ballowe, author of A Man of Salt and Tree

“Well researched and informative.... This biography serves to remind us of who George Fell was and to help us to understand that we need environmental defenders who possess his qualities.”
EcoLit Books

“Highly comprehensive, this biography not only does justice to an environmental hero but also serves as a credit to the concept that successful activism requires both perseverance and practicality.”
ForeWord Reviews

“A chance to learn about this fascinating visionary, whose tireless efforts made Illinois a more beautiful place.”
Nature in Chicagoland

“An excellent read.”
Mesabi Daily News

“Through Pearson's attention to place, the story of this obscure conservationist figure is told with the conviction that the inextricable force of nature drove all his endeavors.”
South Side Weekly



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Force of Nature by Arthur Melville Pearson. Cover art of a picture of George Fell superimposed over a picture of trees.

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New in Paperback!
March 2020
LC: 2016041570 QH
216 pp.   6 x 9
14 b/w photos, 1 map 
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Paper $17.95 A
ISBN 9780299312343
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Cloth $26.95 A
ISBN 9780299312305
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