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Don Baur


In Memoriam: Don Baur passed away on December 15, 2022.


With a heavy heart, I must pass along the news that Don Baur passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer. Don has been a stalwart member of the VLGS Environmental Law Center summer faculty for nearly three decades, teaching our extremely popular Oceans and Coastal Law course. His many contributions to the law school include providing internships for students with the Perkins Coie law firm in DC where he was a partner in the Environment Energy and Natural Resources practice group. Over the years he mentored countless VLGS students on career options and scholarship, and helped plan symposia and other events that brought leading speakers to campus. 

Don spent hundreds—and most likely thousands—of hours doing pro bono work to help whales, sea otters, and other animals, and oceans, parks, and other environmental interests. In one of his more memorable cases, he represented Keiko the orca who was featured in the Disney movie Free Willy. Remarkably, Don actually did help free Keiko from the Oregon Coast Aquarium in 1998. Don also spent countless hours supporting advocacy efforts on behalf of Tokitae (Toki, aka Lolita, aka Sk'ali Ch'elh-tenaut), the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale who has been held captive at the Miami Seaquarium in the smallest orca tank in the world for more than half a century. Just this week, the Seaquarium announced, for the first time ever, that it is “100% committed” to retiring Toki to a sea pen in her home waters, where her mother is believed to still be alive.  

Don was widely admired for his advocacy on behalf of animals, national parks, and the environment. He received the Marine Wildlife Conservation Award from the Center for Marine Conservation, the 1872 Award for Service to the National Parks from the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, and the Animal Welfare Advocacy Award from the Pegasus Foundation.   

Here at VLGS, in addition to inspiring and mentoring an entire generation of environmental and animal protection advocates, Don championed the creation of our animal law and policy program and was a valued friend, colleague, and mentor of many VLGS faculty. We will miss him dearly.  

Don quietly did so much for so many, human and nonhuman alike. He never sought recognition, and even tried to avoid it, instead always putting the next generation out in front. His shoes are impossible to fill, but we are committed to doing our best, and know that the score of VLGS alums he mentored will as well.         

Many thanks to Professors Pat Parenteau and Delci Winders—longtime friends of Don’s—for their help crafting this message.

Jenny Rushlow, JD MPH


Mr. Baur is a partner in the Environment Energy and Resources practice in the Washington, D.C. office of Perkins Coie. His practice focuses on public lands and water, energy resources, marine resources, fish and wildlife, wetlands, endangered species, marine mammals, animal welfare, NEPA, and Indian law. He has published numerous articles and served as adjunct professor of wildlife law at Golden Gate Law School and instructor for the Environmental Law Institute and American Bar Association. He has taught marine biodiversity and ocean law at the Vermont Law School since 1998.  He is coeditor of the American Bar Association’s treatises on the Endangered Species Act and Ocean and Coastal Law. Mr. Baur serves on the Boards of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, the Shenandoah National Park Trust, and the Environmental Leadership Council of the Environmental Law Institute. Prior to joining Perkins Coie, he was General Counsel to the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission and attorney-advisor in the Solicitor’s Office of the Department of the Interior. He is the recipient of the Wings Award for animal welfare advocacy from the Pegasus Foundation and the 1872 Award for national park conservation from the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks. Mr. Baur received his BA degree, with highest honors, from Trinity College and his JD degree from the University of Pennsylvania.