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Natural Resources Defense Council


Matt Skoglund's Blog



I grew up in suburban Chicago, and my backyard abutted a small forest preserve, which had a little creek flowing through it. To my brothers and me, that forest preserve was as wild as Alaska, and we spent countless hours exploring the forest and creek. So began my love of all things wild.

A few years later, when I was 15, I went on a month-long NOLS backpacking trip in the Lemhi Mountain Range in Idaho. For a flatlander from Illinois, it was an amazing experience. When I traveled home after the trip, some part of me remained in the West, and I spent the next fifteen years preparing for my return. In that time, my interest in, and passion for, the natural world only deepened. I closely followed environmental issues, with those affecting the northern Rockies nearest and dearest to my heart. Many voyages to Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming also transpired.

I earned a B.A. from Middlebury College in Vermont in 2001 and a J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law in 2005. Following law school, I clerked in federal court in Chicago for a year, spent two years in the litigation group of a large Chicago law firm, and then, following a brilliant alignment of the stars, obtained my dream job as a wildlife advocate for NRDC in Montana.

Away from the office, I can be found chasing wild trout with a fly rod, trail-running, playing pond hockey, hiking, or doing something else in the mountains. But if it were an emergency, I’d check the rivers first.

Roots in:
Chicago (Go Cubs. This is the year. Seriously.)
Favorite place:
The northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park, home to grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and Yellowstone cutthroat trout.
Why "environmentalism" matters:
I’ll defer to Aldo Leopold, who said it best more than 60 years ago in A Sand County Almanac: “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” And I’ll add, regarding my specific work, that grizzlies, wolves, and bison are hanging by a thread in the lower forty-eight states. South of the Canadian border, wolves occupy less than 5% of their former range, grizzlies less than 2%, and bison less than 1%. Wolves and grizzlies shouldn’t be relegated to Canada and Alaska, and bison shouldn’t be found only in fenced pastures. These incredible animals need to be roaming around the West, and I’m extremely proud to be working to make sure that continues to happen.

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