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Remembering Richard Donovan

Updated: Mar 16

By: Justin Lannen, Chairman of the Board


Richard Donovan canoeing the Neches River, taken by Robert Sloan.
Richard Donovan canoeing the Neches River, taken by Robert Sloan

On February 19, the Texas conservation community lost one of its greatest advocates. Richard Donovan’s contributions to TCA and to environmental conservation were deep and lasting.


I first met Richard not long after I was hired as TCA’s office manager in 1999, which was not long before Richard launched the first of two epic paddling trips down the Neches River. Through these canoeing expeditions, Richard successfully brought attention to the important benefits the river provides to wildlife and humans.

Richard, along with his wife Bonnie and daughter Gina, helped lead the fights against the construction of unnecessary reservoirs that would have flooded thousands of acres of prime wildlife habitat and taken away property owned by families for generations.


Richard published the book Paddling the Wild Neches, based on his diary chronicling his river adventures. The book provides an insightful snapshot into the beauty and biodiversity of one the last wild rivers of its kind in the U.S. South.


Richard Donovan canoeing the Neches River, taken by Robert Sloan
Richard M. Donovan (1936 - 2024)

His efforts in promoting the river and its bottomland hardwood forests ultimately helped lead to the creation of the amazing Neches River National Wildlife Refuge, which opened to the public in 2018 and now encompasses 10,000 acres.


Richard was one of conservation’s most passionate supporters and a warm and caring friend. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from, and work alongside, Richard at Texas Conservation Alliance. He will be greatly missed.


Read more about Richard Donovan in the Lufkin Daily Herald.


If you would like to get a copy of Paddling the Wild Neches, please click here to visit TCA's gift shop.

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