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Douglas P. Wheeler

Senior Counsel
Washington, D.C.

Douglas P. Wheeler

Doug Wheeler helped shape many of the laws and programs that now constitute national environmental policy, including habitat conservation planning pursuant to the Endangered Species Act, conservation and mitigation banking, and transferable development rights.

Doug's environmental practice focuses on federal regulatory issues, with an emphasis on matters pertaining to land use and growth management; endangered species habitat, wetlands, and watershed management; water supply and distribution, including infrastructure development; management of agricultural and timberland resources; and historic preservation.

From 1991-1999, Doug served as California's Secretary for Resources. As a member of the governor's cabinet, he oversaw all of the state's natural and cultural resource programs administered through 18 departments, conservancies, boards, and commissions with combined budgets of nearly US$2 billion and a total staff of 13,000. During his tenure, Doug developed nationally recognized strategies to integrate economic and environmental goals and to effectively manage the state's natural resources in the face of rapid growth and development.

Doug has worked exclusively with natural resource and environmental issues since joining the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1969, where he served for seven years as Assistant Legislative Counsel and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. He also served as Senior Executive of nonprofit environmental and conservation organizations, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation (Executive Director, 1977-80); the American Farmland Trust (President, 1980-85); the Sierra Club (Executive Director, 1985-87); and the World Wildlife Fund (Vice President, 1987-91).


Areas of focus

Representative experience

1991-1999 California Secretary for Resources.

1977-80 Executive Director, National Trust for Historic Preservation.

1980-85 President, American Farmland Trust.

1985-87 Executive Director, Sierra Club.

1987-1991 Vice President, World Wildlife Fund.

U.S. Department of Interior Assistant Legislative counsel and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

Education and admissions


  • LL.B., Duke University School of Law, 1966
  • A.B., Hamilton College, 1963


  • Honorary Life Member, Board of Visitors, Duke University School of Law
  • Honorary Life Member, Dean’s Advisory Committee, Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California
  • Member, Biodiversity Working Group, North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation
  • Board of Advisors, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Duke University

Bar admissions and qualifications

  • District of Columbia
  • North Carolina
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