H. Anthony "Tony" Ruckel helped pioneer the field of environmental law, was the founding director of the Rocky Mountain Regional Office for the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, and later became Secretary, Treasurer, and President (1992-1993) of the national Sierra Club. Ruckel was born on April 26, 1940 and graduated in 1963 from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a degree in Anthropology that emphasized Archeology due to his summer work at Pueblo Indian archeological sites in Mesa Verde National Park. From 1963 through the summer of 1968, Ruckel participated in historic events in Washington DC, where he earned his J.D. from George Washington University Law School. There, Ruckel joined the Sierra Club and co-established the Southeast Group (subsequently the Potomac Group) of the Sierra Club's Atlantic Chapter. Ruckel then moved to Colorado where his first major environmental law case, Parker v. United States, established a federal precedent that enabled the designation and preservation of vast wilderness tracts across the United States. From 1972 to 1986, Ruckel worked as the Rocky Mountain Regional Director and staff attorney for the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund. His legal campaigns include battles against coal-fired power plants and resisting placement of a nuclear waste repository near national parks. Ruckel was elected to the Sierra Club's board of directors from 1990-1993 and 1996-1998, which included his terms as Secretary, Treasurer, and from 1992 to 1993 as President of the Sierra Club. Ruckel became an avid long-distance runner and a mountaineer who has summited all fifty-four of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks. He has two sons and lives in Denver, Colorado. In this oral history, Ruckel discusses all the above, as well as his service on the Sierra Club's Investment Advisory Committee, where he helped pioneer for environmental non-profits their financial investment in non-extractive industries.




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