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DNR honors father of marsh protection act
Reid Harris award
Reid Harris stands between with DNR Board Chairman Bill Curruth and DNR Board Member Jenny Lynn Bradley. - photo by Photo provided.
ATLANTA — The Board of Natural Resources on Wednesday recognized Reid Harris of St. Simons Island as the recipient of the 2009 Rock Howard Award at its monthly meeting in Atlanta.
The Rock Howard Award is given annually to someone who has made contributions to support the DNR’s mission, which is “to sustain, enhance, protect and conserve Georgia’s natural, historic and cultural resources for present and future generations, while recognizing the importance of promoting the development of commerce and industry that utilize sound environmental practices.”
 “It is our pleasure to recognize Reid Harris as this year’s recipient of the Rock Howard Award, specifically for his tremendous foresight in sponsoring estuarine protection legislation that has been hailed as a model throughout the nation,” said Bill Carruth, chairman of the board. “Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Harris, the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act has preserved more than half a million acres of our state’s saltmarshes, nearly one-third of all the saltmarsh left on the East Coast.”
Harris, a state representative, was one of the first elected officials in Georgia to champion environmental legislation. He authored the Surface Mining Land Use Act of 1968, which protects the landscape from strip mining. Then he sponsored the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act of 1970. Many groups doing business along the Georgia coast in the late 1960s took a stand against it, and Harris faced resistance from some constituents.
“Mr. Harris demonstrated tremendous foresight, tenacity and courage to secure passage of this tidelands legislation,” said board member Jenny Lynn Bradley, who nominated Harris.  
Since the act’s implementation nearly 40 years ago, very little of Georgia’s tidelands have been altered. Without his efforts, Georgia’s marshes today may not be as pristine.
The Rock Howard Award is named for the late R.S. “Rock” Howard, who was the first director of the Environmental Protection Division, which was created by Gov. Jimmy Carter in 1972.
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