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Public Lands Counsel

Job Location

Denver, CO; Washington, DC


Type of Job



$98,000 to $108,000,

Published By

Publisher Name

Published Date

Nov 8, 2021

About the job

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Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF or Federation) is America's largest and most trusted grassroots conservation organization with 52 state/territorial affiliates and more than six million members and supporters, including hunters, anglers, gardeners, birders, hikers, campers, paddlers, and outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes. The Federation's mission is to unite all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in our rapidly changing world through programming focused on conserving wildlife, restoring habitats and waterways, expanding outdoor opportunities, connecting children with nature, and addressing the causes and consequences of climate change.


We believe that in order to save wildlife and ourselves, we need to ensure that everyone in America has clean air and water, safe communities, easy and equitable access to the daily benefits of nature, and protection from the effects of climate change. These basic needs, equally necessary and urgent for all people, are foundational to bringing the conservation movement and ethos into the 21st century. To meet our needs we are seeking a full-time Public Lands Counsel.


The successful candidate will be the organization's lead counsel on public lands issues, including reviewing federal administrative actions and proposed policy and helping to shape and inform the public lands agenda for the National Wildlife Federation. You will be an integral member of our cross-organizational public lands team and will work with our affiliates and other departments across the organization. Your areas of focus will include, but not be limited to: conserving and enhancing wildlife corridors; energy development on federal lands; conserving important landscapes critical for wildlife; and expanding protected lands through administrative and legislative action. You will also serve on NWF's litigation team that assesses when and how the organization should take legal action. The position reports to the Associate Vice President for Public Lands.


In this role you will:


  • Serve as NWF's advisor on the actions of the Department of Interior and the Forest Service and other federal or state agencies that affect public lands. Review administrative actions as well as proposed laws to assess their potential effects on public lands, waters, and wildlife and advise the public lands team on how best to respond. Prepare technical comments on agency actions, and occasionally prepare written testimony or letters for hearings on Capitol Hill. From sage grouse conservation plan amendments, to oil and gas lease sales, to environmental impact statements, to land management plans, this is the person anyone on the public lands team or from our affiliates will turn to in order to ask, "what does this really mean?" or "does this adhere to NEPA [or fill in the blank on the law]?"
  • Coordinate strategy with and provide NWF leadership among colleague organizations and coalitions in conservation communities.
  • Serve as the client contact for public lands litigation that NWF becomes party to.
  • Represent NWF before administrative agencies, tribunals, and federal courts as circumstances warrant.
  • Review NWF materials and communications for accuracy. Write blog posts as needed.




  • Juris doctorate and bachelor's degrees. An emphasis on environment and natural resources preferred, but not required.
  • Minimum of 5 years of law or policy practice in the environment and natural resource field, preferably working on public lands issues. Advocacy experience a plus.
  • The successful candidate will be equally comfortable assessing the intricacies of an Environmental Impact Statement and explaining that document in a compelling way to the general public.
  • Deep understanding of the western United States.
  • Practical experience working with federal laws governing public land management preferred, including the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and to a lesser extent the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), and National Forest Management Act (NFMA).
  • General familiarity with other federal laws that influence public land management decisions is preferred, but not required. These federal laws include, but are not limited to, the Endangered Species Act (ESA), National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act (CWA), Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, Mineral Leasing Act, and the Mining Act of 1872.


Core Competencies:


NWF’s values include: collaboration, mindfulness, empowerment, inclusivity, and mission focus. Your core competencies should include:


  • Being motivated by values of equity and responsibility to those most marginalized;
  • Consistently bringing a high level of empathy and social skills to work and interpersonal interactions;
  • Being committed to deepening an environmental justice approach in policy priorities, program development, and partner engagement; and
  • Being dedicated to advancing internal equity transformation and compelling partners and allies to incorporate equity into their work.


Additional Competencies:


  • Clear and direct communication with and feedback to colleagues, with an understanding of communicating respectfully across different identities.
  • Ability to work across constituencies with a broad range of stakeholders and experience engaging with diverse partners.
  • A commitment to continuous learning and growth, especially related to the development of strong equity competencies and to deepening understanding of cultural and systemic racism and the intersectionality of multiple forms of social inequality and how this impacts our work on environmental issues.
  • Able to respond to the short term while playing the long game for conservation.
  • The employee's actions are expected to reflect the staff values of the National Wildlife Federation: collaboration, mindfulness, empowerment, inclusivity, and mission focus.




Due to Covid-19, all employees are currently teleworking. The preferred location for this role is Denver, CO or Washington, DC. This position is open to remote work so long as the candidate resides near an airport with reliable commercial air service.




Once safe travel resumes, this role will require occasional travel, with an average of once per month, for a day or two.


Compensation and Benefits:


This position pays $98,000 to $108,000, dependent upon experience.


The National Wildlife Federation values work-life balance and a family-friendly atmosphere. Our paid time-off includes 3 weeks of vacation leave, open wellbeing leave, 10 paid holidays, 3 floating holidays, a week-long winter break, and additional leave options, per year. In addition, our benefits package includes medical, dental, and vision insurance, company paid life insurance, AD&D, short- and long-term disability, 16 weeks of paid FMLA leave, 403b retirement plan with employer matching and annual contribution, adoption benefits, and flexible work options including telecommuting, non-traditional work hours, and compressed work weeks. Applicants are invited to learn more about National Wildlife Federation’s benefits package at


COVID Consideration:


The National Wildlife Federation closely follows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease and has implemented processes that promote the safety of our employees, candidates, and communities. Because the health of our employees and candidates is a top priority, we conduct our hiring process virtually via phone or video until further notice. We are currently starting our positions as remote, but will transition to onsite work when our offices re-open, expected to be in early 2022. Proof of vaccination will be required as a condition to join the National Wildlife Federation.




Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Candidates must submit a cover letter and resume. If selected for an interview, you may be asked to provide a writing sample.


We strive to increase diversity, equity, inclusion and justice (DEIJ) in all elements of our work and with our partners to support the interdependent needs of wildlife and people in a rapidly changing world. We recruit, employ, train compensate, and promote regardless of race, religion, creed, national origin, ancestry, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity (including gender nonconformity and status as a transgender individual), age, physical or mental disability, citizenship, genetic information, past, current, or prospective service in the uniformed services, or any other characteristic protected under applicable federal, state, or local law. We are proud to be an equal opportunity employer. Applicants are invited to learn more about National Wildlife Federation’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion at


If you have a disability and require an accommodation or assistance with our online application process, please tell us how we can help by calling us at 703-438-6244.


The requirements listed in our job descriptions are guidelines, not hard and fast rules, and if you have 75% of the qualifications listed we encourage you to apply. Your experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work, which helps build the competencies, knowledge, and skills that translates directly to our openings. Applying gives you the opportunity to be considered.


If selected for this position, a background check will be conducted.

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