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J. M. Mitchell has known the conflict over public policy, especially in the debates over America's favorite places, the national parks. He was Chief of the agency's Biological Resource Management Division and retired after 36 years of service, having worked in Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks, Washington, D.C. and Fort Collins, Colorado. He worked on many of the most controversial issues facing the national parks, and knew the privilege--and sometimes the pain--of public service.
Mitchell started writing fiction as a diversion from technical and scientific writing, but it was the ironies observed while conducting public meetings in Yosemite and Grand Canyon that led him to create Jack Chastain and the twisting plot of Public Trust. Rather than use the staple image of the inept government bureaucrat, he wanted to create a character of competence--a public servant, maybe a damaged one--and throw him into conflict and politics, amidst competing interests and polarized expectations. Could he survive?
Mitchell, his wife and daughter divide their time between Denver and their ranch on Colorado's western slope. He remains engaged with the National Park Service, helping develop training for natural resource professionals