Laurie Fowler, Executive Director for Public Service and External Affairs at the Odum School and Director for Policy of the UGA River Basin Center, received The State Bar of Georgia Environmental Law Section Award at the Environmental Law Section Annual Kickoff Luncheon on March 17, 2016, in Atlanta.
“The award recognizes the critical role lawyers play in protecting and managing Georgia’s natural resources. The award is presented each year to an individual who is experienced and highly skilled in the area of environmental law, who is committed to ethics and professionalism, and who serves as a role model for younger and aspiring environmental attorneys,” said Rick Horder, chair of the Environmental Law Section, in an announcement about the award.
Fowler, who also serves as adjunct faculty at the UGA School of Law, leads the multidisciplinary Environmental Practicum, a graduate service learning course she initiated in 1996 to bring students from law, ecology, environmental design and other fields together to use knowledge gained in the classroom to solve real-world environmental problems for local governments, agencies, and nonprofit organizations.
She and her students developed the framework for a regional watershed protection organization that has been adopted in the Etowah watershed, drafted conservation subdivision and transferable development rights legislation—signed into law—at the state and local levels, drafted conservation easements to protect riverfront land, and led a team of scientists and lawyers in helping a consortium of local government in north Georgia develop the Southeast’s first aquatic habitat conservation plan under the Endangered Species Act.
More recently, she led a consortium of faculty and students from universities based in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint watershed in providing recommendations for transboundary water management for the ACF Stakeholders, Inc., a group formed by local governments, industry, and environmental organizations within the basin seeking to resolve the tri-state dispute over equitable water use.
Fowler’s current efforts include Watershed UGA, an interdisciplinary initiative to create a culture of sustainability focused on campus waterways. A collaboration among multiple units across campus and the Athens-Clarke County government, Watershed UGA is led by the Odum School and the UGA Office of Sustainability and receives funding from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation.
Fowler is the recipient of a long list of honors and awards. She was named a UGA Service Learning Fellow in 2015 and the inaugural Sustainable Faculty Member of the Year for 2011 by the UGA Office of Sustainability. She received the Ogden Doremus Award for Excellence in Environmental Law from the non-profit public interest legal group GreenLaw (2010); the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Watershed Award for the Environmental Practicum (2010); the Walter B. Hill Award for Distinguished Achievement in Public Service and Outreach (2007); the Merit Award of the Georgia Chapter of Soil and Water Conservation Society (2007); the Regional Director's Conservation Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2007); the Public Interest Attorney of the Year Award presented by Georgia Law's Equal Justice Foundation (1999); The Eugene Odum Award, presented by the Georgia Environmental Organization (1998); the Special Conservation Achievement in Environmental Activism Award from the Georgia Wildlife Federation (1998); the Georgia Citizen of the Year Award from Citizen Action (1996); and the Alec Little Environmental Award, presented by the N.E. Georgia Regional Development Center, the Athens-Clarke County Clean and Beautiful Commission and the Georgia Conservancy (1993).
Fowler has served on the Georgia Legislature's Water Study Advisory Committee, the Governor's Environmental Advisory Council, the Governor's Advisory Council of the Georgia Land Partnership, the board of directors of the Georgia Conservancy and the executive policy council of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority. She staffed the development of the Governor's Community Greenspace Advisory Committee in 1999. She is currently on the Board of Directors of Second Nature, an organization that mobilizes institutions of higher education to commit to sustainability.
She also advises graduate students and mentors undergraduates in the Odum School of Ecology.
Before joining the UGA faculty, Fowler served as co-director and attorney for the Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation of Georgia (1983-90) and had her own environmental law practice (1987-92). From 1993 to 1997, she served as executive director of the Georgia Environmental Policy Institute.
Fowler earned her bachelor's degree from the University of the South, her law degree from UGA, and a Master of Laws in marine affairs from the University of Washington.