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A bright yellow sun rises over the Atlantic Ocean.
Information icon Sunrise at Nathanial P. Reed Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Diana Gu, USFWS.

Service renames Florida refuge to honor conservationist Nathaniel Reed

Hobe Sound, Florida — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) honored today the late Nathaniel Pryor Reed with a ceremony highlighting the renaming of a wildlife refuge in his name. The Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge is now the Nathaniel P. Reed Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge.

“From Jupiter Island to the Everglades, and Tallahassee to Washington, Nathaniel Reed was a consummate conservationist and steadfast defender of the natural world,” said Leo Miranda, the Service’s director for the Southeast. “Reed’s good works, both professional and personal, will long be memorialized at this wildlife refuge his family so loved.”

A man with gray hair posing for a photo with his arms crossed
Nathanial P. Reed.

As a boy, Reed fished the Indian River for sea trout and bluefish and the Atlantic Ocean for pompano and croaker. He studied the island’s birds and butterflies disappearing for all-day jaunts through dunes and marshes. His parents largely created the refuge in the late ‘60s and early 70s by donating hundreds of acres on either side of the Indian River Lagoon to the Service.

“The naming of this National Wildlife Refuge for Nat Reed is especially appropriate not only because Nat was one of the great environmental protectors of our time, but also because his father protected this land by deeding it to the federal government many years ago,” said former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson who co-sponsored the legislation renaming the refuge.

A longtime resident of Jupiter Island, Reed served as an assistant Interior secretary under presidents Nixon and Ford. He co-authored the Endangered Species Act. He advised six Florida governors on environmental issues. He helped save the Everglades. The New York Times called Reed, who died July 2018, a “champion of Florida’s environment.”

“Dad had a passionate love affair with Florida and Jupiter Island reflects that love,” said Nathaniel Reed Jr. “But with privilege came responsibility. He believed very strongly that this land was extremely important to preserve both for his descendants and for anybody who wanted to visit and enjoy this splendid place.”

Hobe Sound is a double-your-pleasure refuge. The 3.5-mile beachfront portion connects to a state park and, combined, comprises one of the largest sections of undeveloped beach in southeastern Florida. It is also considered one of the prime sea turtle nesting areas in the Southeast.

The mainland portion, across the Intracoastal Waterway, consists of rare sand pine scrub habitat which once covered large swaths of central and coastal Florida only to disappear under the farmer’s plow and the developer’s bulldozer. Its mix of sandy patches and low-slung vegetation — sand pine, myrtle oaks, saw palmetto, Florida rosemary — across dunes and ridges is typically ideal habitat for two dozen threatened and endangered species. Federally threatened scrub-jays, at-risk gopher tortoises, and endangered Lakela’s mint and four-petal pawpaws, once flourished on Hobe Sound and neighboring pine scrubs.

The dedication ceremony featured an honor guard, testimonials by local, state and federal officials, live animals, a rehabilitated eagle release, guided trail hikes, an open house, lunch, music and more.

“Nathaniel Reed is a man I was proud to know and one of the most influential environmental leaders,” said U.S. Rep. Brian Mast who helped the U.S. Coast Guard transfer five acres of prime sea turtle nesting habitat to the refuge. “Nat always ended every phone call by sending his sincerest best wishes. Today, we send him our sincerest and remember his unwavering commitment to America’s Everglades and his service to our nation.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who co-sponsored the legislation renaming the refuge, said: “Nat Reed was a well-known and widely respected conservationist who championed Everglades restoration and was instrumental in advocating for state and national environmental policy. It is a fitting tribute that the Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, where his passion for nature was first inspired, be named in his honor.”


Dan Chapman, Public Affairs Specialist, (404) 679-4028

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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