University of Colorado Law School student Adam Fisher (’24) has been named the 2023-2024 Colorado Law Wyss Scholar in U.S. Lands Conservation. Fisher, a J.D. candidate, is Colorado Law’s sixth Wyss Scholar. The Wyss Scholars Program, awarded to one Colorado Law student each year, supports graduate-level education for promising leaders in United States land conservation. Recipients receive generous financial assistance to cover the full cost of one year of law school, as well as funds for internship opportunities, research assistance, and postgraduate support. Wyss Scholars learn the latest in conservation law and policy and apply that knowledge in careers at land management agencies and nonprofit conservation groups.
Adam grew up adventuring in the woods and waters of Michigan, exploring from small patches of urban forest to the coastline of the Great Lakes. A caving trip to Kentucky in 2006, while studying environmental policy at the University of Michigan, reawakened his sense of adventure and ignited a passion to work with public lands.
Upon graduation, Adam spent the next thirteen-year chapter of his life immersed in the American West. During this time, Adam served as an instructor and course director for the Colorado Outward Bound School, program director for a national nonprofit focused on accessible outdoor sports, a professional mountain guide and avalanche instructor, and as a consultant for outdoor recreation businesses. At the same time, Adam stayed engaged with public land issues — participating in events like Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel’s 2016 community meeting in Bluff, UT, during the initial development of Bears Ears National Monument. These experiences grew Adam’s commitment to public lands and kindled an interest in the law, leading him to join the natural resources program at CU Law. Adam lives in Louisville, CO, with his wife, Austa, and their dog, Eldo.
Adam is committed to spending his career negotiating new public land designations, advising decision-makers, working with tribes, and advocating for public land conservation. While at CU Law, Adam has clerked for The Access Fund and The Wilderness Society, as well as interned with the Honorable Nina Y. Wang of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. During this time, Adam has appreciated the opportunity to work on public land issues ranging from appealing a BLM Resource Management Plan to the Interior Board of Land Appeals, to defending a broad interpretation of the president’s power to designate national monuments under the Antiquities Act. He has also written on how updates to the legal framework governing recreation fees can help prepare the public land system for the modern reality of increased visitation. In summer 2023 Adam will be clerking with the Department of Justice’s Environment & Natural Resources Division in Denver before returning to CU Law for his 3L year.
Upon graduation from CU Law, Adam hopes to engage with critical, emerging issues in the public lands space. For example, Adam believes that meaningful tribal co-management of federal public lands has significant potential to create both positive environmental and social outcomes and is excited to further explore the practical implications of such policies. Similarly, in the effort to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions derived from public lands, he is excited to work toward strategies that help communities previously dependent on fossil fuel extraction transition to a “new normal” in a manner that is both equitable and respectful of their cultural heritage. In sum, Adam hopes to use the power of law and policy to connect Americans from all walks of life to their public lands in a manner that balances robust access with conservation.