Christy Foote-Smith
Massachusetts Wetlands Restoration Program
Boston, Massachusetts

Christy Foote-Smith’s passion for wetlands began with her childhood explorations of the interdunal ponds along the southern shores of Lake Michigan. She went on to work for more than 30 years to protect Massachusetts’ wetlands. Her greatest strength is her ability to galvanize support and engage broad coalitions in direct action. During her six-year tenure as executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions, Ms. Foote-Smith organized the Coalition to Save Sweeden’s Swamp, composed of local and national environmental groups opposing a proposed mall construction in Attleboro, Massachusetts. As a result of intense public pressure, EPA issued a landmark decision vetoing the project and setting legal precedent that strengthened federal wetland protection. As deputy director and then director of the commonwealth’s Wetlands and Waterways Programs for 10 years, she grew aware that regulatory programs cannot address historic wetland destruction. In 1993, she received a start-up grant to initiate a proactive watershed-based wetland restoration program. Under the GROWetlands Initiative (Groups Restoring Our Wetlands), Ms. Foote-Smith successfully raised funds for local projects. She collaborated with other government and business representatives in 1999 to establish the first Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, which funneled $1 million in donations to Massachusetts restoration projects. Her program, which has supported 27 projects, is well on its way towards its goal of restoring 3,000 acres. Because she has won the support and active involvement of state and federal agencies, non-profit groups, corporate leaders, and local officials, we can all look forward to her program achieving its goal.

— Eric Hutchins, National Marine Fisheries Service, Gloucester, Massachusetts