One of the challenges of becoming informed about the subject of modern environmental history is that so many of those responsible for so much, work (or worked) behind the proverbial scenes in meeting or committee rooms, in office buildings or legislative chambers, to accomplish the preservation of species or geographic areas we all too commonly take for granted. And while occasionally they become publicly known for other accomplishments – Governor Tom McCall in Oregon comes to mind – more often than not they remain little known or regarded by the wider public for their accomplishments.

Such a person recently came to my own attention with the arrival of a forthcoming book from University of California Press: Coastal Sage but Thomas J. Osborne. Recounting the story of the life and work of the late Peter M. Douglas, long-serving chairman of the California Coastal Commission, and indefatigable advocate for the preservation of and open access to the magnificent coastline of the U.S. state of California, this new book will – it is hoped – bring greater attention to one of those most responsible for making it still possible for us all continue to be able to enjoy a visit to some of the worlds most remarkable coastal areas. And indeed, perhaps it may further inspire others to take up such work in their own parts of the world by showing how the real work of modern conservation and preservation is accomplished.