Spanish moss, pinching blue crabs and resort villages distinguish Josh Eagle’s passion for the law. A nature lover, Josh grew up hiking, backpacking and camping. “When I was a teenager I spent lots of time exploring national parks; I dreamed of being a forest ranger,” he remembers.
However, before the USC School of Law professor became knee-deep in the rising tide of coastal law – a new field of legal study that combines environmental sciences, land development and public policy – Josh was a trial attorney representing the U.S. Department of Justice in tax and bankruptcy cases. “I enjoyed the work, but there was always a deep desire to do something related to the outdoors,” he says.
So he left Washington, D.C., and headed west to earn a master’s degree in forest sciences at Colorado State University. After completing the program, Josh returned to the nation’s capital to serve as wildlife counsel for the National Audubon Society and began combining his passions for the law, public policy and the environment.
He later returned to the West Coast to help to establish Stanford University’s Fisheries Policy Project, an interdisciplinary research project of Stanford Law School and Hopkins Marine Station.
Today, Josh’s scholarship is at the confluence coastal development and preservation. His textbook, “Coastal Law,” features modern coverage of laws meant to balance public and private interests in coastal resources. “The challenge is to continue developing rules and policies that seek to optimize the balance between conservation and development,” he explains. “The state’s outstanding natural resources are what make South Carolina unique; they give us sense of identity. They are also the goose that lays the golden eggs of tourism, land value, recreational and job opportunities for South Carolinians, and a tax base that supports schools and other critical community assets.”
Through his research, Josh seeks to understand the relationship of economic development and nature preservation. For South Carolinians and the tourists who visit our state, his work helps to ensure that future generations enjoy the splash of tidal dolphins as well as birdie putts.