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Thomas Lustig

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The Rocky Mountain West lost a tireless advocate for preservation of its public lands and wildlife early Wednesday, May 7. Tom Lustig, attorney for the National Wildlife Federation and former adjunct professor at the University of Colorado School of Law, died at age 60, losing his ten year battle with the blood cancer multiple myeloma.
Thomas David Lustig, son of Frank and Ruth Lustig, was born in Chicago Illinois in 1947. He grew up in Highland Park, Ill, attending Deerfield High School. Lustig received his A.B. from Washington University, his M.S. in Resource Planning and Conservation from the University of Michigan, his law degree from the University of Colorado, and his Ph.D in water resource engineering from MIT. After a brief stint in a private law practice in Rochester, NY, Tom joined the National Wildlife Federation in 1979, to pursue his passion protecting our natural environment. From the Boulder office of the National Wildlife Federation, he conducted landmark litigation from 1984 through 2007 to protect the publicly-owned land in the Rocky Mountain states on behalf of NWF and its affiliated state organizations. Along the way, he inspired countless law students to pursue environmental law careers through the environmental law clinic at the CU law school.
Lustig's cases included assuring the right of wildlife to reach federal lands across private property; improving livestock grazing on BLM lands; protecting wilderness values; defending the public's right to participate in federal land decisions; constitutional "takings" cases; oil and gas appeals; and cases involving ski development, surface coal mining, timber cutting, road building, game ranching, and land exchange cases. Tom was especially proud of his protection of pronghorn antelope access to the Red Rim in Wyoming, forcing ranchers to alter fencing along public land boundaries that had led to death by starvation when the antelope could not access their winter range. Lustig successfully fought for sustainable BLM regulations to protect the scenic Comb Wash in SE Utah from cattle overgrazing. He forced the U.S. Forest Service to require developers of a proposed ski area along the East Fork of the San Juan River in SW Colorado to take into account all of the environmental impacts that result from ski development, protecting this wild and scenic area from damage. Tom was recognized for his efforts by wildlife conservationists in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana and across the west.
Lustig was a sought-after speaker on environmental litigation, known for his quirky humor. His published articles captured his intelligent wit. They include: Everything I Needed to Know About Natural Resources Litigation I Learned From Sisyphus; Back Seat Driving on the Road to Public Land Management; and Goading the Federal Beast with Local Land Use Ordinances While Bootstrapping Your Way Past the Straight Face Test. Tom will receive (posthumously) next weekend the Outstanding Conservation Award at the annual meeting of the National Wildlife Federation in Keystone, Colorado.
To honor Tom and carry on his public lands protection work, the family requests that friends consider donations to the "Tom Lustig Memorial Fund" established by the National Wildlife Federation. To do so, please call 1-800-822-9919; or email www. nwf.org, click on "Donate Now", then "Other Ways to Donate" and "Memorial and Tribute Programs." Or, checks may be mailed to: Tom Lustig Memorial Fund, Attn. Patti Beattie, National Wildlife Federation, 11100 Wildlife Center Dr., Reston, VA 20190.
Tom leaves behind his wife of thirty years, Paula Connelly, and his two sons Brooks Lustig and Reid Lustig, who were the pride of his life. He is survived by his sisters Joan (Phil) Schug of Palo Alto, CA, and Karen Sue Lustig of Highland Park, IL; his parents-in-law Jack and Carolyn Connelly of Rochester, NY; his siblings-in-law Leslie (Joe) Jablonski, Jacquelyn Connelly (Paul Morocco), Claudia (Steve) Griffin, and Jack (Shari) Connelly, all of New York State. Tom leaves behind twelve beloved nieces and nephews. Tom also leaves behind hundreds of wildlife conservationists that he mentored, inspired, motivated, encouraged and defended.
Tom's family will be holding an open house to receive his friends at the Lustig/Connelly home at 1742 Bear Mountain Drive in Boulder, Sunday May 11, from 1:00 to 5:00. A memorial celebration will be held later this summer.

Published in Denver Post on May 10, 2008
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