Jean Auer Environmental Award
Every two years at the State of the Estuary Conference, the San Francisco Estuary Partnership presents the Jean Auer Environmental Award to an outstanding individual to honor their significant contribution toward improving environmental quality in the Bay-Delta Estuary. The award is given in memory of Jean Auer, a Bay Area environmentalist, whose ground-breaking efforts were directed particularly at improving water management in California.
About Jean Auer
Jean Auer, born in Youngstown, Ohio, played a prominent role in California’s water issues for over thirty years. She first learned about water issues with the League of Women Voters and was appointed to the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. When her family moved to San Francisco she was appointed to the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board. The Auers moved to Hillsborough in 1973, where she was elected to the Town Council and later became mayor.
From 1972 to 1977, Jean served as a public member of the State Water Resources Control Board, voting on regulations to control pollution and establish water rights. Judge Ron Robie, associate justice of the State Court of Appeal in Sacramento, who served with Jean on the board, called her “a marvelous person of great spirit, enthusiasm and intelligence…She was really courageous and not at all timid.’’
Starting in 1987, Jean worked on the management committee of the San Francisco Estuary Project (now Partnership). Marcia Brockbank describes her ability to forge agreements, saying, “She was a phenomenal woman, a consummate Renaissance woman.” In 1991, Jean became the second female president of the Commonwealth Club, and for the next decade ran a fellowship program for young professionals at the nonprofit Water Education Foundation. Jean is survived by her three beloved sons, Lance, Grant and Brad Auer.
Past recipients of the award include:
- Andrew J. Gunther, founder of the Center for Ecosystem Management and Restoration and former coordinator of the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium; see also Andy’s speech here
- Zeke Grader, former executive director of the Institute for Fisheries Resources
- Dr. Howard Shellhammer, a longtime champion of the Bay Area’s wetland and marsh ecosystems
- Sylvia McLaughlin, co-founder of Save the Bay
- Carl Wilcox, Bay Delta Regional Manager, California Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Marcia Brockbank, former director of the San Francisco Estuary Project
- Will Travis, former executive director of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission
- Tom Graff, attorney with Environmental Defense
- Trish Mulvey, citizen activist with the Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge