2013 Award Recipient
The Section is pleased to announce Dr. Daniel Walsh, as the recipient of the 2013 American Bar Association Award for Excellence in Environmental, Energy, and Resources Stewardship. This award recognizes achievement or leadership in areas of sustainable development or environmental, energy, or resources stewardship.
Dr. Daniel Walsh founding Director of the New York City Office of Environmental Remediation (NYCOER), which runs the NYC Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP) — the first municipally-run voluntary Brownfield remediation cleanup program in the United States. A cornerstone of the Program is a 2010 landmark agreement with the State of New York that provides State liability protection for developers who use the NYCOER Program. Dr. Daniel Walsh is also Adjunct Professor at Columbia University at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory and The Earth Institute
Walsh, appointed in 2008, launched the VCP in 2010 and has enrolled over 200 properties for cleanup and development and has approved 97 cleanup plans that will pave the way for over 8.3 million square feet of new development and associated private investments of over $3 billion in new construction, including 1,400 units of affordable housing, predominately in struggling neighborhoods throughout New York City.
The nominator and supporting letters of recommendation describe Walsh and NYCOER as champions for highly challenged properties in underserved communities. Over 75% of the properties in the program are in historically disadvantaged neighborhoods and burdened with an average property vacancy of 18 years. These projects are expected to generate over 3,100 permanent new jobs, over 7,600 construction jobs, and over $1 billion in new tax revenue for New York City and New York State.
Walsh has assembled a staff of dedicated, innovative professionals and, as a hands-on director, has prepared document templates for applicants to follow to ensure that the environmental approval process moves quickly. NYCOER, spearheaded by Walsh, has provided developers in New York City solutions for moderately contaminated sites, which has helped significantly with the redevelopment of Brownfields in New York City and the revitalization of neighborhoods. Without the OER program, it is possible that sites would languish for many more years, contributing to conditions of blight and decay throughout the city's neighborhoods.
Walsh's supporters note his innovations, including a new program he launched this year, the New York City Clean Soil Bank, a cost-free soil exchange to facilitate the regulated transfer of clean soil from Brownfield redevelopment sites to City and private capital construction sites that need clean soil. This Soil Bank is expected to handle approximately 100,000 tons of soil each year, saving over $5 million in costs and reducing truck miles (and associated air emissions) by over 200,000 miles annually.
Another program innovation, the 2012 "Sand Plan" for New York City in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, resulted in the recycling and reuse of almost 200,000 cubic yards of sand washed ashore to create almost 3 miles of flood protection berms. This effort saved federal taxpayers over $85 million in disposal costs.
Other new programs created since Walsh took the helm at NYCOER include the establishment of the New York City Green Property certification program, a certification that assures the highest level of environmental and public health and safety for new buildings constructed on remediated land; BrownfieldWorks!, a green job training program that provides training opportunities for inner city youth on cleanup projects; and SPEED, the country’s first real estate and environmental research engine that focused on providing the public a database and government environmental database information on every property in the five boroughs of New York City.
The award will be presented at the 21st Fall Conference in Baltimore.
2012 Award Recipient
|Mindy S. Lubber|
The Section is pleased to announce Mindy S. Lubber as the recipient of the 2012 American Bar Association Award for Excellence in Environmental, Energy, and Resources Stewardship. This award recognizes achievement or leadership in areas of sustainable development or environmental, energy, or resources stewardship.
Mindy S. Lubber currently serves as president of Ceres, an organization that mobilizes a powerful network of investors, companies, and public interest groups to accelerate sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy. Through Ceres, Mindy has become one of the world’s leading voices for sustainability and investment practices.
Ms. Lubber epitomizes innovation and change. She demonstrated creativity in Ceres’ coinage of the term “climate risk” in 2003, when Ceres hosted the first-ever investor summit focused on climate change. By bringing together leading investors, policy experts and scientists, Ceres evaluated the financial and business implications of climate change resulting in the launch of the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR). Mindy’s dedication and personal engagement with the issue of climate risk led the Securities and Exchange Commission to adopt and implement groundbreaking requirement for disclosure of climate risks in financial filings. Her success resulted in Mindy being honored in 2010 by the United Nations and the Foundation for Social Change as one of the World’s Top Leaders of Change for her work in mobilizing leading companies to integrate environmental challenges into core business strategies.
Prior to Ceres, she held a variety of positions in government, financial services and non-profit enterprises. In 1991, Mindy was the founder, president and CEO of Green Century Capital Management; she served as president of the Environmental Law Center; and at age 26, she became the executive director of the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group.
Ms. Lubber’s work encompasses both significant achievement over a number of years and specific milestones of achievement. A prolific writer and speaker on sustainability, climate change, energy and water policy, Mindy has been referred to as a thought leader. She has successfully navigated the transition of ideas into action and concepts into concrete proposals now accepted by industry, investors, regulators and the public.
The award presentation was made at the 20th Section Fall Meeting in Austin.
2011 Award Recipients
|David Berz, Irma Russell, and James Redwine|
The 2011 Award was presented to co-recipients James M. Redwine of Motors Liquidation Company, and David R. Berz of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP for their plan of execution to address the remediation of former industrial manufacturing sites arising out of the largest industrial bankruptcy in the history of the United States—that of Motors Liquidation Company (MLC), formerly known as the General Motors Corporation. They envisioned and implemented the plan to ensure the site could become productive for their communities, which had been hard hit by the recent economic downturn of the United States automobile industry.
Jim Redwine currently serves as the senior environmental counsel and director of environmental support for the RACER Trust, the entity formed upon confirmation of MLC’s plan of liquidation. Starting in June 2009, he spent almost two years working for MLC. Before assuming his duties with MLC, Redwine had a variety of roles with the Shaw Group, a Fortune 500 company. He previously chaired the Section’s Site Remediation Committee.
David R. Berz heads Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP’s environmental practice and is a nationally acknowledged authority on U.S. and international environmental law. He has handled major transactions and restructuring work as a deal lawyer, and served as lead counsel in civil and criminal environmental matters as a litigator. He co-authored articles about environmental law in real estate and business transactions for Matthew Bender, and has published numerous articles and is a frequent lecturer on a broad range of environmental issues.
The award presentation was made at the 19th Section Fall Meeting in Indianapolis.
2010 Award Recipients
|Mike Pearce, Frederick R. Anderson, and Steve McKinney|
The Section is pleased to announce Frederick R. Anderson as the recipient of the 2010 American Bar Association Award for Excellence in Environmental, Energy, and Resources Stewardship. This award recognizes achievement or leadership in areas of sustainable development or environmental, energy, or resources stewardship.
Frederick R. (Fred) Anderson is currently with the law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP in Washington, D.C. but is probably best known for his early work establishing the Environmental Law Institute. Mr. Anderson was Editor in Chief of the Environmental Law Reporter, Executive Director and President of the Environmental Law Institute in the 1970s where his groundbreaking work on implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act and other “new” environmental laws brought him national recognition. Sports Illustrated magazine called the Environmental Law Institute a “green think-tank” in the late 1970s, a time when those words were new to the lexicon. Mr. Anderson was also widely known for his early efforts in using economic incentives for environmental compliance, a trend that has set the stage for modern sulfur and nitrogen trading under the Clean Air Act and the climate change cap-and-trade programs of today. In 1999 the Environmental Law Forum profiled Mr. Anderson in an article titled “Creating the Present” exemplifying Mr. Anderson’s recognized accomplishments in shaping environmental law and policy as we now know it.
|Frederick R. (Fred) Anderson|
Mr. Anderson also dedicated himself to the academic world, teaching law at the University of Utah and serving as Dean of the Washington College of Law, American University, in the 1980s. He is also highly regarded for his work with the National Academy of Sciences and for his efforts to illuminate the relationship between law and science. He was the first and, so far, the only lawyer to be appointed to the Academy's Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. He also has continued to serve the NGO community, chairing two boards and serving on boards of several other environmental organizations. Since his academic career, Mr. Anderson has been in the private practice of law, where he is still recognized for his innovative thinking and leadership. Mr. Anderson has been at the forefront facilitating a variety of climate-related initiatives and projects to build wind and solar "green energy" facilities, as well as addressing product regulation and many other aspects of environmental law and policy. Just this year, the Center for International Environmental Law created the annual Frederick R. Anderson Award for Outstanding Achievement in Addressing Climate Change. By his work, Mr. Anderson has clearly earned the title of an extraordinary environmental steward.
The award presentation was made on October 1, 2010 at the 18th Section Fall Meeting in New Orleans.
2009 Award Recipients
|Luke W. Cole|
The Section is pleased to announce Luke W. Cole and the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment and Richard B. Stewart as the recipients of the 2009 American Bar Association Award for Excellence in Environmental, Energy, and Resources Stewardship. This award recognizes achievement or leadership in areas of sustainable development or environmental, energy, or resources stewardship.
Luke W. Cole was one of this nation's most important and innovative environmental attorneys. He co-founded the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment (CRPE) with Ralph Abascal in 1989. Cole represented low-income communities and workers throughout California helping them address the environmental issues they faced. Cole stressed the need for community-based, community-led advocacy. Through CRPE, he also provided legal and technical assistance to attorneys and community groups involved in environmental justice issues nationwide. Cole worked with dozens of community groups across the United States.
CRPE is an environmental justice litigation organization dedicated to helping grassroots groups across the United States address the disproportionate burden of pollution borne by poor people and people of color. CRPE has become nationally recognized for its successful community-based advocacy approach and pioneering environmental justice litigation.
CRPE strongly believes in the maxim "communities should speak for themselves," and strives to create forums for the voice of affected communities to be heard. CRPE provides organizing, technical and legal assistance to help community groups address environmental concerns. It has supported community-led opposition to hazardous waste incinerators, brought litigation resulting in the use of cleaner technology, addressed air emissions from large scale dairy facilities, and helped bring safe drinking water to rural communities.
Sofia L. Parino, Staff Attorney from the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment accepted the award on behalf of CRPE and Luke Cole.
|Richard B. Stewart|
Richard B. Stewart, University Professor, John E. Sexton Professor of Law, and Director of the Center on Environmental and Land Use Law at New York University, has made extensive and widely recognized contributions to environmental law and environmental protection as a preeminent scholar, as a high federal government official, and as a board member of several prominent environmental organizations.
Stewart is internationally recognized as one of the world’s leading environmental law scholars for his extensive and distinguished scholarship (over a dozen books and over 75 articles) on issues including the following:
- economic incentives for environmental protection
- climate change law and policy
- blueprints for a “new generation” of smarter environmental laws
- federalism issues in environmental regulation
- regulation of genetically modified crops and foods
- nuclear waste law and policy
- environmental regulation and free trade
- liability for environmental damage
Most recently, Stewart was co-lead of a major environmental law reform project, Breaking the Logjam: Environmental Reform for the New Congress and Administration. The project enlisted more than 40 diverse environmental experts to develop concrete proposals for the new Congress and administration to reform our obsolescent environmental laws. The project’s Report synthesizes a package of proposals that are currently under active consideration by Congress, the administration, and environmental law policy makers in Washington D.C and elsewhere. The experts’ proposals were presented at a major symposium in New York in 2008 and have been published in a special issue of the New York University Environmental Law Journal.
The award presentation was made on September 25, 2009 at the 17th Section Fall Meeting in Baltimore.
2008 Award Recipients
In 2008 the ABA Award for Excellence in Environmental, Energy, and Resources Stewardship was not bestowed.
2007 Award Recipients
The Section is pleased to announce Richard Roos-Collins and Stephen D. Ramsey as the recipients of the 2007 American Bar Association Award for Excellence in Environmental and Resources Stewardship. This award recognizes achievement or leadership in areas of sustainable development or environmental or resources stewardship.
Richard Roos-Collins, director of Legal Services at the Natural Heritage Institute in San Francisco, is a former attorney in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of General Counsel and a former deputy attorney general in the California Department of Justice. During the past 20 years, he has represented a plethora of environmental groups devoted to the river conservation movement in high profile natural resource litigation throughout the country.
Mr. Roos-Collins is a nationally recognized leader in water, fish and wildlife, and energy circles. He has had a number of prominent litigation successes, including the Mono lake cases which resulted in the restoration of water flows to the lake and its tributaries and further resulted in a change in the California state fish and game code to ensure that water rights are granted in such a way that fish are kept “in good condition.”
In addition to this and many other litigation successes, Mr. Roos-Collins has made important contributions to reforming the hydroelectric power licensing process administered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He is also a member of the board of directors of various environmental organizations devoted to restoring and protecting our nations’ rivers and streams, and is active on a number of public interest committees, including one that has been instrumental in establishing the San Francisco Bay–Delta Conservation Plan.
|Stephen D. Ramsey|
Stephen D. Ramsey, vice president for Corporate Environmental Programs at General Electric Co. (GE) in Fairfield, Connecticut, is widely accredited with transforming GE into a company that is a national leader in both adopting and implementing corporate environmental strategy. Through his position with GE, Mr. Ramsey has encouraged the company to use its influence to ensure that both its own factories as well as those of its major suppliers exceed international standards in environmental health and safety.
Mr. Ramsey also has been a leader of the company’s launch of a growing line of goods and services designed as environmentally sustainable while contributing to and improving the company’s “bottom line.” This initiative is known as “Ecomagination,” and it ranges from the manufacture of high-efficiency jet engines and locomotives, to clean coal technology and wind and solar power.
Prior to his 17-year tenure at GE, Mr. Ramsey was a partner at Sidley & Austin. He joined that firm after being chief of the Environmental Enforcement Section of the Land and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
The award presentation was made on September 28, 2007 at the 15th Section Fall Meeting in Pittsburgh.
Legacy, Inc. - 2006 Award Recipient
|Paige Moreland, Legacy, Inc.|
The Section is pleased to announce Legacy, Inc., Partners in Environmental Education as the recipient of the 2006 American Bar Association Award for Excellence in Environmental and Resources Stewardship. This award recognizes achievement or leadership in areas of sustainable development or environmental or resources stewardship.
Legacy’s mission is to create environmentally responsible citizens through balanced, fact-based education that considers diverse environmental views. Legacy is a non-profit organization whose diverse membership brings together a unique mix of volunteers from local, state and federal agencies, private industry, environmental groups and concerned citizen associations. For 14 years Legacy has provided collaborative fact-based environmental education focusing on environmental and resource stewardship.
|From left to right: Neil Johnston, Karen Bryan, Tommy Wells, Steve McKinney, Paige Moreland, and Larry Caster|
Legacy raises money through the sale of Alabama's "Protect Our Environment" license tags, as well as from corporate and in-kind donations, grants and annual events. Legacy was formed in 1992 and since then has granted a total of $2 million in grants, scholarships, and sponsorships related to environmental education projects and events- and has both participated in and sponsored annual events including hazardous waste and pesticide collection and amnesty programs.
Given Legacy’s fifteen years of success and dedication to environmental education and its broad base of support, the Section proudly bestows this award to Legacy, Inc., Partners in Environmental Education.
The award presentation was made on October 5 at the 14th Section Fall Meeting. Paige Moreland, Executive Director of Legacy, Inc. accepted on Legacy’s behalf.
Charles H. Chisolm - 2005 Award Recipient
The Section is pleased to announce Charles H. Chisolm as the recipient of the 2005 American Bar Association Award for Excellence in Environmental and Resources Stewardship. This award recognizes achievement or leadership in areas of sustainable development or environmental or resources stewardship.
Charles H. Chisolm is the executive director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) in Jackson, Miss., a position in which he has served for 5½ years. Mr. Chisolm has also served as director of the state's Office of Pollution Control, and in several positions in the state Air and Water Pollution Control Commission, for a total of more than 35 years of service to the environmental protection programs of the state of Mississippi.
Mr. Chisolm has taken a strong leadership role in establishing an aggressive diversity initiative at MDEQ. In 2001, MDEQ organized and hosted the three-day Mississippi Statewide Environmental Justice Summit, one of the first meetings of its kind in the nation. The agency regularly hosts events to celebrate the diverse heritage of its employees and has expanded its recruiting efforts to include historically black colleges and universities in the region, earning high marks from employees and local organizations for its efforts.
Mr. Chisolm has helped achieve significant victories in Mississippi aimed at protecting and sustaining environmental resources. During his tenure at MDEQ, the agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the largest civil penalty ever assessed against a single facility, the result of a joint effort that created a $36 million penalty settlement with a major chemical manufacturer. He has led MDEQ in implementing programs that have made Mississippi's streams, air and soil cleaner than ever before.
Mr. Chisolm has demonstrated a lifelong pursuit to increasing the standard of living and improving the quality of life for all Mississippians, and he has pushed for both economic development and environmental protection hand-in-hand. He has dedicated his career to environmental issues and shown commitment to public service, diversity, and environmental justice in the state of Mississippi. The Section is pleased to bestow this award to Charles H. Chisolm.
2004 Award Recipient - Douglas I. Foy
The Section is pleased to announce Douglas I. Foy as the recipient of the 2004 American Bar Association Award for Excellence in Environmental and Resources Stewardship. This award recognizes achievement or leadership in areas of sustainable development or environmental or resources stewardship. This may include major contributions in the areas of resources, energy or environmental law or policy that serve to enhance conservation, responsible development, prudent resource use and pollution abatement or mitigation.
Douglas I. Foy is currently the secretary of Commonwealth Development for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a newly created position in which he oversees the state's environmental, energy, transportation and resources agencies and works to implement "smart growth" initiatives in Massachusetts. For the previous 25 years, Mr. Foy led the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), a highly effective and innovative regional environmental advocacy organization that has had a major impact on preserving New England's environment, and has served as a national model of "entrepreneurial environmentalism."
As CLF's president, Mr. Foy helped achieve numerous significant victories aimed at protecting and sustaining environmental resources, including: forcing the clean-up of Boston Harbor; intervening in regulatory hearings to force millions of dollars of investment by New England Electric Utilities in aggressive energy efficiency programs; preventing the construction of a large new dam by a paper company on a wild and scenic stretch of the Penobscot River in Maine by showing energy efficiency improvements would save more power than the dam would generate; forcing Massachusetts to commit hundreds of millions of dollars in transit improvements and new parkland as part of the Central Artery project in Boston; and creating the innovative CLF Ventures affiliate - which was charged with using business and economic tools to solve environmental problems - to develop environmentally friendly projects.
For his extensive knowledge of environmental issues, his dedication and commitment to public service, his strong advocacy skills, and his innovative and pragmatic approach to solutions, the Section proudly bestows this award to Douglas I. Foy.
Michael Gerrard, Section Chair
presenting award to Douglas Foy
2003 Award Recipient - Douglas I. Foy
The Section is pleased to announce John A. Delaney as the recipient of the 2003 American Bar Association Award for Excellence in Environmental and Resources Stewardship. This award recognizes achievement or leadership in areas of sustainable development or environmental or resources stewardship. This may include major contributions in the areas of resources, energy, and/or environmental law or policy that serve to enhance conservation, responsible development, prudent resource use, and pollution abatement or mitigation.
John A. Delaney is one of Florida's leading environmental stewards. During his two terms as mayor of Jacksonville, Delaney's vision brought the city to national prominence for the restoration of the St. Johns River and the preservation of its environmentally sensitive lands.
Delaney led two summits in concert with state and local legislators and citizens focused on protecting, restoring and enhancing the St. Johns River, the lifeblood of Jacksonville's economy and quality of life. The result of the first summit was a five-year plan to reduce pollution from storm water and improve water quality in the upper river. The plan was funded with nearly $200 million from federal, state and local governments.
The second summit broadened the scope of planning to include the entire reach of St. Johns River, ranging from Central to Northern Florida. That summit focused on ways to improve the river's water quality, as well as on water supply issues. It also explored developing recreational opportunities, including a St. Johns River Trail, and a system of greenways and blueways.
Delaney was also instrumental in having the St. Johns named an American Heritage River in 1998 by the President Clinton. That designation elevated the river and the Mayor's River Summit to a national level. In addition, it brought the promise from the federal government to help targeted communities receive federal aid for cleaning rivers and fostering economic development on waterfronts.
Delaney's original vision for the St. Johns River has resulted in several unique characteristics in the St. Johns River Initiative. First, the Initiative is a comprehensive long-term plan for the entire 310-mile long river. Second, it has increased stakeholder involvement in decisions relative to water quality, water supply and use, aquatic habitat, and developing a greenways and trails master plan. Third, it has sustained legislative and grassroots support for restoration of the river that has improved opportunities to garner funding for priority projects. Finally, the Initiative has drawn participants from all areas of the river's watershed and from all interest groups.
In January 1999, Delaney kicked off a major growth management and land conservation program called The Preservation Project. Through the Project, more than 60,000 acres of land has been set aside for conservation and passive recreation. The Project also included plans to upgrade more than 100 local parks and preserve and enhance public access to the St. Johns River and other natural assets. Since then, more than 60 square miles have been conserved - exceeding the initial five-year acquisition goal by 300 percent. The Project, which receives funds as mitigation for construction projects on wetlands, is a national model for restoring and protecting large ecosystems. It was the first program of its kind in the nation to develop a partnership with the National Park Service and the Department of Environmental Protection.
Prior to his service as mayor, Delaney was the general counsel for the City of Jacksonville and chief of staff to the Jacksonville mayor. He also served a decade as a prosecutor in the State Attorney's Office of Florida's Fourth Judicial Circuit and spent six of those years as the chief assistant state attorney. Delaney is currently the president of the University of North Florida.
The ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources considers it an honor to have presented this award to John Delaney.
2002 Award Recipient - C. Thomas Wyche
This award has been established in 2002 to recognize and honor the accomplishments of a person and/or organization or group that has distinguished itself in environmental and resources stewardship. The recipient of this award was announced at the 10th Section Fall Meeting held in Portland, Oregon in October 2002.
The proud recipient of this award was C. Thomas Wyche from Greenville, South Carolina. Following is a brief history of Mr. Wyche's outstanding achievements in the area of conservation. Also, don't miss the interesting article about Mr. Wyche which will appear in an upcoming issue of NR&E.
For the past 35 years, C Thomas Wyche has devoted a significant portion of his personal and professional time to the conservation of approximately 100,000 acres of magnificent wilderness forests in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North and South Carolina. Without the leadership of his conservation efforts, much of this land would today doubtless be gated communities, golf courses and shopping centers. Instead, these lands are home to pristine rivers, lakes and waterfalls, undisturbed hiking trails, and campsites in a lush environment that supports an ecosystem of great richness and diversity.
Tommy Wyche is a 77 year old attorney who lives in Greenville, South Carolina. He graduated from Yale University in 1946 with a degree in electrical engineering and earned his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1949. Since that time, he has been in the private practice of law with Wyche, Burgess, Freeman & Parham in Greenville.
In the early 1970s, Tommy conceived the idea of permanently preserving a large wilderness area spanning the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Greenville County, South Carolina along its border with North Carolina. The area includes the city of Greenville's Table Rock Reservoir lands on the west (9,800 acres) and the City's Poinsett Reservoir lands on the east (19,000 acres) and a 10,000-acre "bridge" of land between the two. The entire area is now generally known as the "Mountain Bridge." The region is part of South Carolina's Blue Ridge Escarpment where the rolling hills of the Piedmont suddenly rise up to the stunning cliffs, gorges and waterfalls of the mountains. Among the region's prime features are Raven Cliff Falls, a 400-foot waterfall and one of the highest east of the Mississippi, and the striking rock monolith known as Table Rock.
In 1973, Tommy organized Naturaland Trust, one of the first land trusts in South Carolina history, to spearhead the project. Over the next 15 years, he participated in numerous face-to-face meetings with the private owners of the properties in the 10,000-acre "bridge" and ultimately convinced all but two of them to make a "bargain sale" of their tracts to the State. At the time, the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund would match 50 percent of the fair market value of state-acquired lands. With the support of Governor James Edwards, and his successor, Governor Richard Riley, acquisition of the various properties began. With just two exceptions, all of the landowners donated half of the value of their property to the State, thus enabling South Carolina to fund the land purchases solely with Federal Land and Water Conservation Funds. Thus, South Carolina, which had no available funds, acquired these magnificent properties at no cost to the State.
The owners of the Raven Cliff Falls tract were less generous. They would sell, but only at full value. Tommy went to work and found a $1.6 million contingency grant from the United States Department of the Interior to acquire this property. Raven Cliff Falls is now one of the Southeast's most remarkable natural wonders. Subsequently, Tommy and Naturaland Trust sponsored the construction of an 80-foot suspension bridge across Matthews Creek in the Jones Gap-Caesar's Head area, providing an unprecedented spectacular view of the 420-foot gorge into which Raven Cliff Falls plummets. (All of the materials for the bridge were carried into the remote project site by hand by students and conservation volunteers).
The crowning achievement of Tommy's efforts in the Mountain Bridge came in 1993 when the City of Greenville granted to The Nature Conservancy a conservation easement that permanently protects all 29,000 acres of the Table Rock and Poinsett reservoir lands. It was the largest conservation easement ever received by The Nature Conservancy in the Eastern United States and the fourth largest in the nation. To convince the water system commissioners and to document the significance of the watershed lands, Tommy chaired a study commission that produced (at Tommy's own expense) a voluminous report of the biology and ecology of the watershed properties in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness. Scientists were astonished by some of their discoveries: new champion-size trees, trophy-sized brook trout, and a stunning variety of birds, reptiles, amphibians, plants, and insects -- including rare and endangered species. The study concluded by describing the watershed lands as "the most significant wilderness remaining in South Carolina."
This wilderness area of nearly 40,000 acres is easily accessible to millions of people. The South's "boom towns," Atlanta and Charlotte, are only a three hour drive away, while the 600,000 residents of the Greenville-Spartanburg metropolitan area can reach the area in about 45 minutes.
The Mountain Bridge project is, in essence, the story of a series of cooperative partnerships created and sustained by Tommy Wyche: a partnership between conservation and the individual landowners who made the "bargain sales" of their properties; a partnership between conservation and the Greenville Water System; a partnership between state governmental agencies (Parks and Recreation Department and the Wildlife Commission) who entered into a joint venture agreement (the first in South Carolina) to manage the area; and a partnership between conservation and the federal government, as evidenced by the acquisition of the Raven Cliff Falls tract. It should be noted that Naturaland Trust has received consistent and substantial support from individuals associated with almost every major corporation in this area -- the former Multimedia Corporation, Liberty, Fluor Daniel, PYA Monarch, Delta Woodside, and so forth.
After the successes with the Mountain Bridge, Tommy continued to pursue the preservation of the special areas of the Blue Ridge Escarpment. His exceptional skills as a nature photographer and writer were manifested in his two books on the area, South Carolina's Mountain Wilderness: The Blue Ridge Escarpment, published in 1994, and The Blue Wall: Wilderness of the Carolinas and Georgia, published in 1996. These outstanding books, full of rich photographic evidence of the extraordinary beauty and biodiversity of the Blue Wall area, were critical to raising awareness and the grassroots and legislative support for the public acquisition of over 52,000 acres of lands in the Jocassee Gorges area in the Carolinas in 1998.
Tommy was integrally involved over many years with the management of Duke Power to encourage them to make the Jocassee Gorges lands available to public entities for acquisition and protection. He was essential in facilitating the behind-the-scenes political and financial support necessary to make this project possible, and he was also heavily involved in the recruitment of private, public, State and financial support for the purchase of the Jocassee properties. South Carolina's Governor at the time, David Beasley, in speaking of the purchase called this "the most significant land protection project in the Southern Appalachians in the latter half of the Twentieth Century."
His efforts in protecting our mountains continues unabated. During the past five years Tommy has been instrumental in establishing the Blue Wall Preserve, consisting of 2,500 acres on the eastern end of the Blue Ridge Escarpment near Tryon, North Carolina. These lands are now owned and operated by the South Carolina Nature Conservancy and the State Heritage Trust. Once again, through negotiations with private property owners and other partners, and by risking personal resources, this new gateway to the Blue Ridge Escarpment area now serves as a trailhead connection between the Mountain Bridge and the Palmetto Trail which is being developed from the mountains to the coast of South Carolina.
He continues to work with conservation partners in the Carolinas, to protect sensitive lands and to fill in critical gaps of the mosaic of mountain properties that he has helped to weave together for over 30 years. Over the last year, Tommy acquired critical additions to the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, most recently Bald Rock, a 163-acre scenic overlook and important conservation buffer, which has long been a local de facto recreation site. Tommy secured the Bald Rock site and two adjoining properties at his own expense for eventual transfer to the state's Heritage Trust Program. He is currently negotiating some additional key acquisitions.
Throughout his career Tommy Wyche has used his skills as an attorney and his network of relationships in the corporate, political, and conservation communities to work "conservation magic" in this nationally significant Blue Ridge area of the Carolinas and Georgia. He has systematically and tirelessly worked his unique process of education, public awareness, documentation through his keen eye and exceptional skill as a nature photographer, and by simply showing them the special places to raise the public's awareness and the conscience necessary to protect these special lands. Ultimately, it has been Tommy's vision of the possibilities of what this exceptional area could be that has enabled the successful preservation of roughly 100,000 acres of the Blue Ridge Escarpment -- an accomplishment of national significance. These lands will now be protected for the study, enjoyment, and inspiration of many generations to come.
The ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources considers it an honor to have presented this award to Mr. Wyche.