The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is losing its longest serving staff member later this year. After 29 years with the organization, grassroots attorney Buck Lindekugel is retiring.
He’s been with the organization since 1990 and in that time has worked to defend the natural resources of Southeast Alaska.
“When I graduated law school, I hitched a ride on the back of a fishing boat up to Alaska,” Lindekugel told the Empire in a phone interview Friday. “That changed my life. I decided whatever I was going to do was going to involve salmon and Alaska.”
Lindekugel got his law degree from the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Shortly after, he started clerking in the general counsel’s office for the National Marine Fishery Service. His time there, Lindekugel said, got him hooked on Juneau.
He passed the Alaska bar in 1988 and started his own practice in downtown Juneau.
“I represented a feisty gill-netter who was upset that the Forest Service wanted to log Salmon Bay,” he said. Salmon Bay is an important sockeye salmon fishery off Prince of Wales Island. That case ended in a federal judge issuing a restraining order against the U.S. Forest Service and an amendment to the 1989 Tongass Timber Reform Act, which was working its way through Congress at the time.
“We were able to protect up to 10,000 acres,” he said. “Pretty cool.”
Lindekugel soon replaced SEACC’s outgoing attorney Steve Kallick, who is currently a board member for the organization, and started working on protecting wild habitats.
When asked what kept him at SEACC for nearly 30 years, Lindekugel said it was a combination of things. Among them the focus on protecting wild places that produce salmon, he said. But also, “they’re incredible people to work with. The commitment they’ve shown over the years has just been inspiring.”
Looking back on his career, Lindekugel said it’s hard for him to identify one crowning achievement.
“I’ve been thinking about that, that’s a hard one,” he said. “It doesn’t ever seem to end.”
He said that over his career he’s seen a general decline in logging, something he thinks is beneficial for the region’s environment and the economy.
“The natural resources of the forest do produce a lot of wealth,” Lindekugel said. “If you manage it well, it’s going to produce wealth into the future.”
There’s no concrete plans for retirement just yet, he said, other than relaxing and enjoying not having to get up early and go to work. Lindekugel plans to officially retire in December.
“I’m looking forward to enjoying life with my lovely wife,” he said. “Her patience and strength got me through a lot.”
Lindekugel and his wife Angela have a home in downtown Juneau.
“If we get sun in Juneau,” he said, “we have a patio that gets pretty hot. I’m going enjoy a few beers on the patio.”
For parting words he says, “Adios, stay strong and go for the gusto.”
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.