Laurie Fowler, associate dean of the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology, received the Ogden Doremus Award for Excellence in Environmental Law from the non-profit public interest legal group GreenLaw at a ceremony in Atlanta on Oct. 5, 2010.
GreenLaw established the Ogden Doremus Award for Excellence in Environmental Law in 2006. The late Doremus, a pioneer in environmental law in Georgia, was co-founder of GreenLaw and one of the first trustees of the Georgia Conservancy in the 1970s. This award recognizes the critical role that lawyers play in protecting Georgia’s natural resources.
“Laurie has been a role model and inspiration to her students and lawyers everywhere for her dedication to protecting our environment,” said Justine Thompson, executive director of GreenLaw. “Her dedication to educating young lawyers to protect our state’s resources has been a driving force in making this state a better place to live.”
Laurie currently serves as associate dean of the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology and as environmental practicum director at the UGA School of Law. She also is a member of the Conservation Ecology and Water Resources faculties. A law graduate of the university, she also holds an LL.M. from the University of Washington School of Law.
Before moving to UGA, Laurie was a co-founder and co-director of the Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation (LEAF), the state’s first public interest environmental law firm. Her cases addressed the National Environmental Policy Act, pesticides, nuclear licensing, whistleblowers, and water quality issues. Her clients included citizens of Taylor and Talbot Counties who were successful in stopping the siting of a state-run hazardous waste incinerator while also creating an office of Pollution Prevention in the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. She also served as the executive director of the Georgia Environmental Policy Institute where she helped draft state and local legislation on solid and hazardous waste reduction and siting (addressing environmental justice issues) and promoted the development of land trusts and use of conservation easements around the state.
Laurie’s current research and leadership center on water protection strategies. She was among the first in the state to recognize the enormous impact that local land use policies have on water quality and to develop and promote model ordinances and incentive programs to manage growth and avoid adverse impacts. These models have been used extensively in the state of Georgia as well as in other states and countries.
Laurie has led programs that integrate the latest scientific research with development of management policies to protect water quality and biodiversity. These include coordinating the development of the Etowah Aquatic Habitat Conservation Plan and drafting the implementation piece for multi-jurisdictional plans to protect the Alcovy River in Georgia and the Upper Cahaba River in Alabama. She has been integrally involved in the development of the land protection strategies and associated legislation enacted by the last three Georgia governors. She involves law students, ecology students, and those from other programs in every aspect of her work through an innovative interdisciplinary practicum. Additionally, she counsels other universities on the creation of similar programs.
Among the many honors and awards Laurie has received for her work are the Annual Merit Award from the Georgia Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society, the Regional Director’s Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Outstanding Environmental Educator Award from the Georgia Association of Environmental Educators, the Eugene Odum Award from the Georgia Environmental Organization, the Walter B. Hill Award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Service and Outreach from UGA, a Gubernatorial Commendation from Gov. Roy Barnes, the Dean’s Award for Professional Achievement from the Odum School of Ecology, and Public Interest Attorney of the Year by the University of Georgia School of Law.
“It is an honor to work with Laurie,” said John Gittleman, dean of the Odum School. “She is tireless in explaining why the environment is critical to enriching our lives, always passionate in helping others – especially students – understand the importance of ecology, and makes sure that in the process of learning about environmental issues we have fun! The Odum School of Ecology and UGA are very lucky to have Laurie Fowler."
GreenLaw is a non-profit public interest legal group dedicated to preventing air and water pollution that endangers human health and degrades Georgia’s natural resources by providing free high quality legal and technical assistance to environmental organizations and community groups throughout Georgia.