John D. Leshy is Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. He was Solicitor (General Counsel) of the Interior Department throughout the Clinton Administration. Earlier, he was counsel to the Chair of the Natural Resources Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, Associate Solicitor of Interior for Energy and Resources in the Carter Administration, an attorney-advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and a litigator in the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. He led the Interior Department transition team for Clinton-Gore in 1992 and co-led it for Obama-Biden in 2008.
The U.S. government owns and manages more than six hundred million acres, which is about 30% of the nation’s land. These lands and the agencies that manage them—the National Forest Service, the National Park Service, the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management—are a presence in our western communities.
John Leshy’s forthcoming book, OUR COMMON GROUND: A HISTORY OF AMERICA’S PUBLIC LANDS, soon to be published by Yale University Press. In 600+ pages, it chronicles this history of our public lands and suggests how Congress, the executive and the federal courts have responded to the numerous challenges facing these lands.
Articles pertinent to this interview:
Utah Wants to Disable the Law That Led to the Creation of Four of Its Magnificent National Parks https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/05/opinion/national-parks-bears-ears-monuments.html
Private Landowners Bar Access to 500,000 Acres of CA Public Lands https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/calif-public-land-access-barred-17764934.php
Judge halts oil and gas leases in Gulf of Mexico; the largest offshore auction in U.S. history https://www.salon.com/2022/02/05/halts-oil-and-gas-leases-in-gulf-of-mexico-the-largest-offshore-auction-in-us-history_partner/
Guest column: The U.S. Forest Service’s access contradictions https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/opinions/guest_columnists/guest-column-the-u-s-forest-services-access-contradictions/article_3564cf1a-adda-5beb-9593-1c1a51026bc7.html
Guest column: Making progress on access in the Crazy Mountains https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/opinions/guest_columnists/guest-column-making-progress-on-access-in-the-crazy-mountains/article_5c773a1e-9456-53e9-9d7e-8f5206f0f3ac.html
Plan to Reduce Feral Cattle in New Mexico Draws Objections https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/08/us/feral-cattle-gila-national-forest.html
Activist Renew Push for Moratorium in Jackson State Forest – Six Arrested https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/01/11/activists-renew-push-for-moratorium-in-jackson-state-forest-six-arrested/
Native Americans are at the heart of Yellowstone. After 150 years, they are finally being heard https://www.theguardian.com/environment/commentisfree/2022/feb/28/native-americans-are-at-the-heart-of-yellowstone-after-150-years-they-are-finally-being-heard-aoe