Audrey C. Rust, president emeritus of the Peninsula Open Space Trust based in Palo Alto, Calif., was named the Kingsbury Browne Fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, at the annual Land Trust Alliance Rally held this year in Milwaukee. Rust, who was executive director and then president of the Bay Area land trust from 1987 to this year, was also named the winner of the Kingsbury Browne Conservation Leadership Award by the Land Trust Alliance in recognition of outstanding leadership, innovation and creativity in land conservation.
Previous Kingsbury Browne fellows Jay Espy, executive director of the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, and Jamie Williams, director of The Nature Conservancy’s Northern Rockies Initiative, joined fellow James Levitt for an open dialogue about land conservation issues, at the conference. Other winners have been 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.
Under Rust, the Peninsula Open Space Trust partnered with public agencies and private landowners to protect more than 53,000 acres of open space lands in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. The achievements ranged from Cowell Ranch, 1,200 acres of coastal bluff and agricultural soils just south of the city of Half Moon Bay, Calif.; 20,000 acres on the San Mateo Coast; and 1,623-acre Bair Island, one of the South Bay’s largest restorable wetlands, now part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Rust received the Times Mirror-Chevron National Conservationist of the Year Award and the Jacqueline Kennedy Award from JFK University for her achievements in land conservation, among other awards. She lives in Menlo Park, Calif. She is an avid gardener, draws and paints, and takes every opportunity she can to hike on lands she helped protect.
The fellowship is named for Kingsbury Browne, the Boston attorney and Lincoln Institute fellow who first envisioned a network of land conservation trusts, and convened conservation leaders here that 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 and totalling more than 37 million acres.