Key Figure in Environmental Policy Dies

Russell Train


It was an African safari in 1956 that put Russell Train on the path to an influential career in conservation and environmental policy. Wildlife in Kenya made a deep impression on the 36-year-old Ivy League-educated, Washington insider. "We were enthralled by the strangeness and beauty around us," he wrote in his 2003 memoir. Train and his wife also encountered a poaching camp, where they confiscated snares and poisoned arrows.

In 1961, Train created the African Wildlife Leadership Foundation. Four years later, Train gave up his career as a judge for the U.S. Tax Court to direct the Conservation Foundation. He was tapped by President Richard Nixon to be undersecretary of the Interior. He then became the first head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and the second director of the Environmental Protection Agency. During this time, he put into practice the Toxic Substances Control Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and other major environmental legislation.

After leaving the government in 1977, he became the director of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-U.S. Under his leadership, the organization grew rapidly and innovated conservation ideas, such as debt-for-nature swaps. Even after retiring in 1994, Train remained active at WWF and in conservation politics.

Train died Monday in Maryland at the age of 92.