Getting land conservation stakeholders to work together across state and even international boundaries is no easy feat. But Jamie Williams, director of The Nature Conservancy’s Northern Rockies Initiative and a leader in the effort to protect major landscapes and wildlife linkages in the Intermountain West, has been doing exactly that, and it's a big part of the reason he has been named the fourth Kingsbury Browne Fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
Along with the fellowship, named after Boston attorney and land conservation pioneer Kingsbury Browne, was also named the recipient of the Land Trust Alliance's Kingsbury Browne Conservation Leadership Award. Both awards were set to be presented this evening in Portland, Oregon at the Land Trust Alliance's Rally 2009: The National Land Conservation Conference, the largest annual gathering of professional and volunteer conservation leaders in the US. The Lincoln Institute will remain in Portland for the special screening of Portland: Quest for the Livable City at Portland State University October 14.
"I am honored to be part of a movement that is re-defining conservation around local, collaborative efforts to conserve the land in ways that work for both wildlife and people." Williams said. "Having grown up camping, hiking, hunting, and river running in Oklahoma and the Rocky Mountain West, my life's passion has been about finding ways we can work together to sustain these natural habitats and special places for future generations."
Williams joined The Nature Conservancy in 1992 and has earned a reputation for setting the standard for "community-based" conservation, in the ongoing effort to protect important forest lands in the Northern Rockies, across Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Canada. Most recently he helped The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with the Trust for Public Land and local communities, secure a deal with the major landowner Plum Creek to purchase 310,000 acres of timberland in western Montana, to protect it as working forests for wildlife, public access and sustainable timber management. Williams was The Nature Conservancy's Montana state director for nine years, where he focused the program on conserving Montana's largest, most intact landscapes through strong community-based programs and private-public partnerships. He helped start and sponsor several collaborative land trusts groups focused on leveraging each other's resources toward common conservation goals, including the creation of the Montana Association of Land Trusts and the Heart of the Rockies Collaborative. He started his work with The Nature Conservancy in 1992 as its Northwest Colorado Program Manager, where he spearheaded a community-based conservation effort to conserve not only the Yampa River, but the agricultural land base too. Before that he worked on the wild and scenic designation of the Farmington River in western New England, which was specially tailored for local management. A graduate of Yale University and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, he is a former instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and also a river guide.
Kingsbury Browne and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy had a long history together. In 1980, as a fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Browne first envisioned a network of land conservation trusts, and convened conservation leaders through the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, which ultimately led to the formation of the national Land Trust Exchange (later renamed the Land Trust Alliance) in 1982. Browne is considered the father of America's modern land trust movement, a network of land trusts protecting 37 million acres operating in every state of the nation. Kingsbury Browne Fellows at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, typically mid-career professionals, spend the year doing research, reflecting, and writing. The fellow for 2008-2009, Laurie Wayburn, co-founder of the Pacific Forest Trust, is author of a Land Lines article this month on the role of forests in climate policy. The land use dimension of climate change is an important topic in the work of the Department of Planning and Urban Form, chaired by senior fellow Armando Carbonell, as is the conservation of large-scale landscapes and regional collaboration. A recent publication, Working Across Boundaries, identifies many themes inherent in Williams’ work.
Before Williams and Wayburn, previous Kingsbury Browne Fellows were Mark Ackelson, president of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, and Darby Bradley, president of the Vermont Land Trust.