Andrew Sansom

Location of Interview
Collection Name

The Gulf Podcast and Oral History Project


The Gulf is an oral history project and podcast that shares stories about people and nature on the Texas Gulf Coast. For more information, visit the The Gulf's homepage.

Date of Interview
Principal Investigator

Dr. Andrew Sansom is a renowned figure in the field of water and environmental conservation. He grew up in Lake Jackson, Texas, near the mouth of the Brazos River, where he spent a significant part of his childhood exploring the outdoors. This early exposure to nature sparked his interest in parks and recreation, leading him to pursue a degree in Park Administration from Texas Tech. During the Vietnam War, Sansom was offered an internship with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) in Washington, which allowed him to avoid the draft. His writing skills caught the attention of Rogers Morton, President Nixon’s second appointment to the Interior Department. Morton was so impressed with Sansom's writing that he asked him to write a commencement speech, despite Sansom's young age and lack of experience in speechwriting. Sansom's career in water and environmental conservation has been marked by his commitment to inclusiveness and understanding. He believes in bringing all parties to the table while never compromising on his principles. He has worked with the legislature for over forty years, advocating for more action to be taken in response to the ongoing droughts in Texas. Sansom's work has been driven by three fundamental environmental issues: the continued fragmentation of the landscape in Texas, the increasing urbanization of children's environments, and the alarming rate at which water is being withdrawn from Texas rivers. He believes that these issues are interconnected and that addressing them is crucial for the future of Texas. Despite the challenges, Sansom remains optimistic and committed to his work. He has expressed gratitude for the opportunity to work at the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and continues to contribute his thoughts and ideas to the field.

Scope and Content Note
In this oral history interview, Dr. Andrew Sansom reflects on his long career in land and water conservation. He discusses his early life in Lake Jackson, Texas, the influence of the environmental movement on his career path, and getting his first conservation job at the U.S. Department of Interior in Washington, D.C. Sansom talks about his role in preserving Matagorda Island as well as his later land acquisition work at The Nature Conservancy and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, including the creation of Big Bend Ranch State Park. He explains how his career shifted to water conservation and the creation of what became the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University-San Marcos. Sansom also shares his experiences and thoughts on various water issues, including environmental flows, the problematic implementation of Senate Bill 3 (2007), and the continued problems with the groundwater in Texas.

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