“The Nature Conservancy has been instrumental in protecting natural places that are especially meaningful to me, including the tallgrass prairies of the Kansas Flint Hills, the Irvine Ranch Land Reserve in California, watersheds in Wyoming and Montana, the Texas Hill Country, the Everglades, and the Chesapeake Bay.”
During a visit to The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky’s Green River Project in 2012, Tony Arnold and a group of students took in the charts, diagrams and stories Project Director Mike Hensley shared with the group. Without a doubt, the work illustrated the type of intersection between ecological processes and social systems he teaches about at the University of Louisville as a Boehl Chair in Property and Land Use and a professor in both the Law School and the School of Urban and Public Affairs.
“I’ve made it a career mission to transform environmental law and policy into an interdisciplinary academic pursuit which integrates the relationships between human social processes and emerging land use, water quality and use, environmental conservation and private property issues,” says Arnold.
Interestingly, Arnold’s visit came at a time when The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky’s State Director, Terry Cook, had begun stepping up efforts to build relationships with universities around the state. As a result, Cook quickly followed up to explore the potential for collaboration – including an invitation to have Arnold join the Board of Trustees.
“For me it’s a perfect fit,” says Arnold. “The Conservancy’s work is so valuable; it gets at the complexities and realities of how human society and nature intersect. That’s important to understand.”
His role on the Conservancy’s Kentucky Board of Trustees is sure to be a good fit as the self-described scholar, teacher and civic leader has been widely cited in academic publications while putting theory to practice in the area of law and community involvement. His works have also been put to use by government agencies, industry, businesses, environmental organizations and community-based groups. Much of his current work is on watershed institutions.
“I love Kentucky for its waters, from the Ohio River to the Green River to the Red River Gorge to the many creeks and streams that run not far from home,” adds Arnold. “The state has more miles of running surface water than any state other than Alaska, which defines not only our normally vibrant green landscapes but also our communities. Water gives life to our environments, our wildlife, our economy and our people. My passion for healthy watersheds is what drew me to The Nature Conservancy and its work.”