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Russell W. Peterson, environmental champion


Russ’ proudest accomplishment was the passage of the Coastal Zone Act. On June 24, 2011, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of this legislation with the premier release of a DVD entitled “An Evolving Legacy: Delaware’s Coastal Zone Act.” This film tells the story of how a two-mile-wide strip of land along the Delaware coast was saved from industrial development, and raises questions about today’s development on the coast. Russ was an effective and innovative governor of Delaware, and he continued to be involved. He was president of the National Audubon Society, and his concern for criminal justice led him to found SURJ (Stand Up for what’s Right and Just). The Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge at the Wilmington Riverfront on the Christina River was named after Russ because he and former University of Delaware president Art Trabant developed and sold the plan for the rejuvenation of this whole area to the state legislature. Many people remember Russell for his calm determination to stick to the truth and live up to his ideals. He was a renaissance man, and I was fortunate to be married to him for 15 years.

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