Timothy Searchinger
Staff Attorney, Environmental Defense Fund
New York, New York

Timothy Seachinger of the Environmental Defense Fund is an award winner in the nonprofit category for his achievement as principal author of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report, How Wet is a Wetland? His 175-page report represents the work of over 40 scientists, assorted other environmental policy analysts, and EDF and WWF staff. Although unnamed here, all of these contributors should take pride in sharing the credit for this award.EDF and WWF submitted How Wet is a Wetland? to the Environmental Protection Agency in January 1992, in response to the August 1991 proposed revisions to the Federal Manual for Identifying and Delineating Jurisdictional Wetlands. The revisions were numerous and complex and had the potential to significantly affect the scope of federal regulatory jurisdiction.Searchinger produced a report that provides a clear, plain language, comprehensive, and compelling analysis of the proposed revisions. Hism report immediately became a desktop reference for information on the effects of the proposed revisions in several important wetlands types and for readable explanations of the causes of those effects. Distributed to the offices of all the members of the 102nd Congress, the orange-covered report was soon seen in the hands of key congressional staff at meetings and hearings on the manual revisions. Searchinger’s estimate of the potential effects of the proposed revisions on the geographic scope of the federal wetlands protection programs became the most quoted news bite on the proposed manual.Searchinger’s quick, aggressive action on this project was crucial to its success. For several months, he led his co-workers at EDF and their counterparts at WWF in organizing financial support from six charitable sources, and obtaining detailed analyses from some of this country’s top wetlands ecologists, including scientists at four other major conservation organizations, several local conservation organizations and private consulting firms, and more than 20 major universities.Following a strong foundation of background information on wetlands functions and values, Searchinger constructed a thorough analysis of the proposed revisions using an abundance of well-documented examples to support his challenge to some of the underlying bases of the proposal. For example, he addresses the “wetter is better” paradigm with descriptions of the aquatic functions of seasonally wet/seasonally dry habitat types, such as waterfowl dependence on temporarily and seasonally ponded prairie potholes.Tim Searchinger received his B.A. at Amherst College, and J.D. at Yale, where he was senior editor of the Yale Law Journal. He later clerked in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, and was deputy general counsel to the governor of Pennsylvania. He has been at EDF since 1989.— Michael Fritz, Environmental Protection Specialist, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Washington, DC