Utah State University alum Huey D. Johnson is the recipient of a 2009 Cornelius Amory Pugsley Medal from the National Park Foundation and the American Academy of Park and Recreation Administration. Johnson will receive the award in an Oct. 15 ceremony in Salt Lake City during the National Recreation and Park Association’s annual congress.
A renowned conservationist and author, Johnson earned a master’s degree in wildlife management from USU in 1966. Fred Wagner, Johnson’s major professor and a USU emeritus faculty member, describes Johnson as a scholar with “incredible initiative and imagination.”
“Huey is a shining example of the impact College of Natural Resources alumni can have on the world,” says CNR Dean Nat Frazer. “We are proud of his contributions to conservation and the environment.”
Johnson was appointed western regional director of The Nature Conservancy in 1963 — the organization's first employee west of the Mississippi River. During his nine-year tenure, he was responsible for more than 50 projects, including the preservation of Hawaii's Seven Sacred Pools.
In 1972, Johnson founded the Trust for Public Land, now the nation's fifth largest environmental organization. Since its founding, the organization has completed nearly 3,000 land conservation projects in 46 states, protecting two million acres.
Johnson served as secretary of resources in the cabinet of former California Gov. Jerry Brown from 1978 to 1982, where he launched several successful water and energy conservation programs, doubled the state’s salmon numbers, strengthened forestry policy and preserved several million acres of wilderness and 1,200 miles of rivers.
In 1983, Johnson founded the California-based Resource Renewal Institute and currently serves as the organization’s president. According to its Web site, the non-profit organization “facilitates the creation, development and implementation of practical strategies to solve the entire complex environmental problem by addressing it comprehensively.”
A leading proponent of science-based green plans, Johnson authored the 1995 book Green Plans: Greenprint for Sustainability. Now in its third printing, the book has been incorporated into the environmental planning curriculum of a number of universities.
In addition to RRI and TPL, Johnson founded the Grand Canyon Trust, the Environmental Liaison Center in Nairobi, Kenya; Defense of Place and the Aldo Leopold Society. He was awarded the Sasakawa Prize in 2001, the annual environmental award given by the United Nations to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions of the management and protection of the environment. In 1996, Johnson received the President’s Award for Sustainable Development.
Johnson received an honorary doctorate from USU during 2009 spring commencement.
Considered the top award in the parks and conservation field, the Pugsley Medal, initiated in 1928, recognizes outstanding contributions to the promotion and development of public parks in the United States. Past recipients include Lady Bird Johnson and Bruce Babbitt and, this year, Eunice Kennedy Shriver will receive the medal alongside USU’s Johnson, in recognition of her work with Special Olympics.
Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517, firstname.lastname@example.org