Don Barry spent more than 44 years working on wildlife and public lands conservation issues as a senior governmental official and in the non-profit community. He spent more than 19 years at the Interior Department, having served as a career staff attorney and Chief Counsel for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), as well as the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, overseeing the policies and programs of the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service.
After his arrival in the Solicitor’s Office at the Interior Department in 1974, Don helped draft the key implementation regulations for the then newly enacted Endangered Species Act (ESA) and he was involved in every major amendment or reauthorization of the ESA over the next four decades. Moreover, during the 12 years he served as an attorney for FWS, Don wrote numerous legal opinions interpreting key provisions of the ESA, opinions which still guide the implementation of the ESA to this day.
While serving as Assistant Secretary, Don was heavily involved in the negotiations that led to the passage of the National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act of 1997, the most sweeping reform of national wildlife refuge law in 31 years. Don also served as the Interior Department’s lead counsel for the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), a landmark law enacted in 1980 which establish more than 100 million acres of new national wildlife refuges and national parks in Alaska. In addition to serving as the Department’s lead counsel for ANILCA, Don was also a member of the FWS ANILCA wildlife refuge planning team, work which subsequently inspired him to visit every national wildlife refuge in Alaska. In addition, Don worked for 6 years as General Counsel for Fish and Wildlife for the Chairman of the House Committee with jurisdiction over the National Wildlife Refuge System, the National Environmental Policy Act, the ESA and all other federal wildlife conservation laws. Moreover, given his nationally recognized legal and policy expertise on wildlife refuges, Don has served as an instructor at the FWS National Wildlife Refuge Academy for 29 years.
Finally, Don worked for more than 17 years in senior positions in the non-profit conservation community including World Wildlife Fund, The Wilderness Society, the Environmental Defense Fund, and Defenders of Wildlife where he finished his career and retired as its Senior Vice President for Conservation Programs in March of 2016.