Ken Rait began directing Pew’s western lands initiative in September 2011. For 10 years prior, he headed up the campaigns team of the Campaign for America’s Wilderness, which became part of The Pew Charitable Trusts in 2010.
Rait is also the former director of the Heritage Forests Campaign, an initiative that successfully advocated for the conservation of nearly 60 million acres of roadless, wild national forestlands.
Before joining Pew, Rait was conservation director of the Oregon Natural Resources Council and spent seven years as issues director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. Previously, he was the conservation chair of the Sierra Club's Rincon Group in Tucson, where he lobbied for passage of the Arizona Bureau of Land Management wilderness bill. He also held a faculty position with the University of Arizona's Department of Agricultural Economics as a research associate. His work has been published in various legal and economics journals.
Rait holds a bachelor’s degree in physical geography and a master's degree in environmental affairs and water resource management, both from Clark University.
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Southern Utah is known for big-name public lands, including Zion National Park, but few people outside the state are familiar with the remote area west of Cedar City, where mountain ranges and desert lowlands offer world-class hiking, wildlife viewing, mountain biking, backpacking and more—providing a big economic lift to the region. Read More
Northwest California boasts some of the most unspoiled land in the region, with isolated redwood groves, oak woodlands, winding rivers and streams, and habitat for a wide diversity of wildlife, including bald eagles, salmon, steelhead, and sandhill cranes. Read More
During his confirmation hearings, then-Congressman Ryan Zinke harkened back to one of America’s pre-eminent conservation champions Theodore Roosevelt, as a model for his prospective tenure as interior secretary. Zinke called himself an “unapologetic admirer” of Roosevelt and said the 26th U.S. president was correct to put Western lands under federal protection. Read More