HARTFORD, Conn. -- These are challenging times for land conservation, said Mark Tercek, president of The Nature Conservancy at a conservation conference here earlier this month: a growing separation of people and nature, particularly people of color; a recession that can make conservation seem like a luxury no one can afford; and a divisive political climate that makes any initiatives associated with government more difficult -- even though conservation has traditionally had bipartisan support.
Tercek, speaking at the Land Trust Alliance’s Rally 2010: The National Land Conservation Conference, cited the ballot proposal to roll back California's recent climate legislation, and the way Congress has "punted" on a national emissions-reductions bill. On the bright side, he applauded President Obama's Great Outdoors initiative, and the recognition in large-landscape conservation that "ecosystem challenges don't line up neatly like states do."
Also at the gathering of over 1,000 conservation leaders, Jay Espy, executive director of the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, and former president of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, was named the Lincoln Institute's 5th Kingsbury Browne Fellow. The fellowship, named after Boston attorney and land conservation pioneer Kingsbury Browne, has previously been awarded to Jamie Williams, director of The Nature Conservancy’s Northern Rockies Initiative, Laurie A. Wayburn, co-founder of the Pacific Forest Trust, Mark Ackelson, president of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, and Darby Bradley, president of the Vermont Land Trust.
Espy was selected for the award for the way he has pioneered a collaborative approach to land conservation, set the trend for other land trusts, made an impact across the land conservation movement, and has served as a mentor. He joined the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, focusing on conservation, animal welfare and social needs, as its first executive director in January 2008, and before that served as president of Maine Coast Heritage Trust, a statewide land conservation organization.
Kingsbury Browne and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy had a long history together. In 1980, as a fellow, Browne first envisioned a network of land conservation trusts, and convened conservation leaders through the Lincoln Institute, 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 operating in every state of the nation. Together these land trusts have conserved more than 37 million acres, an area the size of New England.