Jim Lyons is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress where he focusses on public land policy, natural resource conservation, and endangered species issues. Jim has also been a lecturer and research scholar at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies since 2000.
Under President Bill Clinton, Jim served as under secretary for natural resources and environment in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) where he oversaw the Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which he helped to establish. At USDA, Jim was an architect of President Clinton’s Northwest forest plan and advanced new rules for national forest planning and the concept of ecosystem management to guide national forest management. Jim also helped lead the effort to protect 58 million acres of national forests under President Clinton’s roadless rule.
Jim served in the Obama administration’s Department of the Interior, first as counselor to the assistant secretary for land and minerals management and later as the deputy assistant secretary, working primarily on Western energy, land management, and conservation issues. Jim was one of the departmental leads responsible for developing an 11-state strategy for conserving the greater sage-grouse—an iconic wildlife species of the Western rangelands in the United States.
Jim has worked in the field of conservation throughout his 35-year career at the highest levels of government, in Congress, and in leadership roles in various nonprofit organizations. He received an undergraduate degree from Rutgers University and a master of forestry degree from Yale.