WASHINGTON – With supreme sadness, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership today announced that its Chairman, James D. Range, passed away yesterday morning at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., after a brief battle with cancer. He was 63.
Throughout his career, Range was a tireless champion for the America’s fish and wildlife resources. Perhaps best known as a long-time advisor to former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker who helped shaped several of our country’s landmark environmental laws, Range also was known personally to countless people as a beloved confidant, friend and mentor.
“Jim Range was a dedicated, loyal and trusted member of my staff who helped to fashion some of this country’s most vital environmental legislation,” Sen. Baker said. “I will miss Jim’s counsel, but more importantly, I will miss him.”
At the time of his death, Range worked as senior policy advisor in the law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz. Apart from chairing the board of the TRCP, an organization he helped to found, Range’s involvement within the American conservation community was monumental. He served on the boards of directors of Trout Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, the Wetlands America Trust, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, the American Sportfishing Association, the American Bird Conservancy, the Pacific Forest Trust, the Yellowstone Park Foundation, and the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust.
“Jim Range was the most ardent conservationist I’ve ever known, as he never restricted problem solving to traditional means,” said TRCP Board Member Marc Pierce. “Jim was about producing results for the American sportsman, period. And you never had to guess what he was thinking!”
An original board member and Chair of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Range also was a White House appointee to the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, the Sportfishing and Boating Partnership Council and the Valles Caldera Trust.
In 2003, Range received the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Great Blue Heron Award, the highest honor given to an individual at the national level by the Department. He was also awarded the 2003 Outdoor Life Magazine Conservationist of the Year Award and the Norville Prosser Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the American Sportfishing Association.
Range was profiled by Time magazine in 2005 for his efforts to expand the availability of conservation easements, and a Wall Street Journal story that same year highlighted Range’s successful efforts to engineer the rollback of an excise tax that was unintentionally placing American fly rod manufacturers at a huge competitive disadvantage.
Range enjoyed a wide variety of outdoor activities, but loved hunting and fishing the most. He pursued both passions all over the world but ended up falling in love with Montana and its trout and game birds. He spent as much time as he could at his property on the Missouri River in Craig,Montana, the Flyway Ranch. Range graciously hosted many important events over the years for leaders from political, business, non-governmental organization and media circles. It was his personal bastion of respite as he found relief from his many commitments and busy schedule on the waters of the Missouri River with a fly rod in his hands.
“Jim Range has given me so many such rich and wonderful memories afield,” said Matthew B. Connolly Jr., president emeritus of the TRCP. “He’s also helped give American sportsmen cleaner water, more habitat and greater opportunities to pursue the joys of the chase than one can find in any other nation on earth.”
“The measure of any man’s life is did he leave things better than he found them,” said Matt Hogan of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, a TRCP board member. “There is simply no debate that Jim Range has left things far better than he found them. The conservation community has lost a giant and we have lost a dear friend.”
“Jim saw a changing world in which the voices of hunters and anglers were being overshadowed by people and interests who don’t hold the same reverence for ducks in flight at sunrise or elk bugling in the fall,” said TRCP Board Member Dr. Rollin Sparrowe. “With his characteristic energy, he convinced colleagues and friends to form the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership in the tradition of our 26th president to speak with a louder voice to assure the future of fish and wildlife and hunting and fishing. This will be one of Jim’s most enduring legacies.”
“Jim was one of the most remarkable men I ever met,” said Sid Evans, editor of Garden & Gun magazine and a TRCP board member. “He had a passion for hunting, fishing, and wild places that was beyond measure, and that passion was contagious. He made you want to fight for conservation, and like any great general, he made you want to follow him into battle. It may be a long time before we truly appreciate the impact he had on our lands and waters, but for now it’s clear that hunters and fishermen have lost a great friend, and so have I.”
“Jim Range was one of the most effective conservation leaders of our time,” said Charles Collins, managing director of The Forestland Group and a TRCP board member. “Throughout his career he worked passionately for the nation’s hunters and fishermen and everyone who loves our environment. He brought an exceptionally inclusive, pragmatic and sophisticated approach to conservation without care for personal recognition or acclaim. No one was a better companion in the stream or field. I will miss him deeply and so should everyone who loves the outdoors.”
“Jim Range made hunting and fishing better for every American,” said Charles S. Potter, Jr. “He did not seek personal accolade or fame. Every day had the purpose of making it possible that each person who wanted to be in the field or on the water would have that opportunity. We think of Teddy Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold as legendary conservation visionaries. So too will coming generations recognize that the work and skills of Jim Rangewere that of a visionary. Jim was a man of action who could be comfortable visiting with those who hold the highest national office and who could also skin a rattlesnake with a cowboy or net shad with a waterman. Jim’s legacy will live on the prairie and the waters of America for all of us to enjoy.”
In lieu of flowers, Jim’s family has requested that donations be made to the TRCP in Jim’s honor. Please visit www.trcp.org for more information.
Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.