14 trailblazing women who left a lasting mark on Houston and beyond



“Terry” Tarlton Hershey (1923-2017): Second woman in history appointed to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. Hershey was a leading environmental activist in the Houston area for several decades.
She had a role in forming numerous environmental organizations in the state, including the Bayou Preservation Association.

She first got involved in what would become her life’s work quite by chance in 1966 when she noticed an area along Buffalo Bayou ravaged by fallen trees and bulldozed undergrowth. When she called county offices, she learned that the Harris County Flood Control District and the Army Corps of Engineers were in the process of rerouting Buffalo Bayou without public notice, according to Houston History Magazine.

Hershey mobilized neighbors and community organizations and after a period of public outcry, the Harris County Commissioners Court agreed to a six-month moratorium on the project. It was then that Hershey turned to her newly elected congressman, George H.W. Bush. Interested in the campaign, Bush invited Hershey to testify before Congress. Hershey and her fellow campaigners conducted community education campaigns and continued to challenge the Army Corps of Engineers, the Harris County Flood Control District and the Commissioners Court until their efforts finally succeeded in 1971 with the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act, which required the Army Corps of Engineers to gather public input and prepare environmental impact statements before moving forward on significant projects. With feedback from the community, the Corps finally canceled the project to reroute Buffalo Bayou.

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