California native returns to her roots at pro-grazing group

Dowling Theodora Dowling

Public Lands Council defends 'most independent people in the nation'


Capital Press

For Theodora Dowling, taking a new job at the Public Lands Council is like returning to her roots on the family ranch in Northern California.

Dowling, 25, is the PLC's new manager of legislative affairs in Washington, D.C. The California State University-Chico graduate takes over for Dustin Van Liew, who was recently promoted to be PLC's executive director.

Dowling will draw on her experiences growing up on her family's sheep, cattle and horse ranch in the Scott Valley.

"I really think cattlemen and sheep growers are some of the most independent people in the nation," Dowling said. "We're not looking for handouts. That's something I really appreciate about (the National Cattlemen's Beef Association) and PLC both."

With the PLC, Dowling will be able to address "all the stuff my family always had to worry about, the stuff I wanted to have some influence over, but you don't know how," she said.

The PLC is one of the nation's biggest promoters of grazing on public lands. It's been involved this year in opposing about a dozen new proposed national landmark designations throughout the West and a bill that would remove the word "navigable" from waters governed by federal clean water statutes.

Having earned bachelors' degrees in agricultural communications and French from California State University-Chico in 2008, Dowling held internships with the Heritage Foundation and the Society of American Foresters and was an associate with the Koch Foundation before joining the PLC's staff.

"I didn't really have an urge to jump right in and start working for Monsanto or something," she said. "I was really drawn to the Heritage Foundation because of their principal focus. ... I really got my foundations in free markets and rule-of-law type principles through that internship."

Dowling had hoped to land a job on Capitol Hill with a resources or agriculture committee, but then an acquaintance told her of the opening at PLC.

"I wasn't really familiar with the Public Lands Council ... but when I saw the application, I just loved it right off the bat," she said. "What they stand for is right up my alley ... Mostly what they're fighting for in the Farm Bill is to keep stuff out of it."

Dowling said many ranchers are discovering that they have to be more aware of political issues to maintain their operations.

"We can't just ride along thinking this freedom stuff is just going to be handed to us without a pretty good fight," she said. "I think I'm right where I need to be. I'm just really happy to be here. I couldn't have asked for a better position and better people to work with."

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