Erin Hogan-Freemole: Sparking Change

by Lizzy Gazeley | Oct 20, 2021

Not all career paths are linear. For Erin Hogan-Freemole, her path has had twists and turns. Erin, however, describes the beginning of this new chapter as somewhat of a fitting culmination of her life experiences and her passions. To understand how Erin arrived at Crag, I asked her to go back to the beginning. 

Erin grew up in the Willamette Valley with her family, and attributes her initial interest in environmental work primarily to her parents. As a public school teacher and librarian, Erin’s parents emphasized the importance of giving back to the community through your work. Additionally, Erin described her parents as “committed environmentalists,” and the family went on frequent outdoor trips. Their dedication to public service and the environment fostered Erin’s own interest in environmentalism, which she decided to pursue through her academic studies.

 

Igniting a passion

Erin graduated with a B.S. in environmental sciences from the University of Oregon. While in and out of the classroom, Erin focused on fire ecology and forest management. She became involved with local activism surrounding the salvage logging project in the Biscuit fire in Southern Oregon. The work propelled Erin’s interests in environmentalism and critical discussions about ongoing forest management practices. 

After her undergraduate studies, Erin worked for the Forest Service as a wildland firefighter for eight years. With her skepticism and criticism of the Forest Service’s practices still in mind, Erin was excited by firefighting and the way it connected her with the outdoors.

 

Erin’s crew fighting a wildland fire in Arizona, one of the many western states she worked in as a firefighter.

Firefighting took Erin all across the Western United States. The migratory nature of the work appealed to both her adventurous love for travel and appreciation of the outdoors. As a firefighter, the majority of her work was centered around fire suppression. Erin continued to question and challenge these ongoing forest management practices but her questions, more often than not, tended to fall on deaf ears. As her frustrations grew, Erin realized she no longer wanted to work for the Forest Service. Moving in a new direction, she decided to pursue “an old dream” of hers: to go to law school.

Out of the woods, back in the classroom

Erin received a J.D. at the University of Colorado in 2020. In pursuit of her degree, Erin aimed to create a new path forward that would allow her to influence and reimagine forest management policy. While in law school, she interned with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, Earthjustice, and The Wilderness Society. Now that she has her law degree, Erin seeks to widen our understanding of forest management and environmental policy.

“You can’t talk about forest management, land management, resource extraction, or fire management without talking about climate change.”

Erin emphasized the importance of bringing climate change into our wildlands legal work and forest management policy. “I would like to expand what wildlands and public lands litigation looks like by talking about all these issues in the context of climate change.” She is excited to continue these dialogues within her work at Crag. 

 

Back to her roots

Joining the Crag team as a  legal fellow has simultaneously evoked feelings of new adventure and familiarity for Erin. In the first weeks on the job, Erin has jumped right into working on cases challenging the forest practices she saw up close and questioned while a firefighter. On the other hand, Erin’s new position at Crag has brought her back to her roots, her home state. For the past year, Erin has been clerking for Chief Justice Joel Bolger on the Alaska State Supreme Court. After many years of travelling throughout the Western U.S., Erin says she is glad to be back home

 

Eklutna Lake outside of Anchorage, AK. Before moving back to Oregon, Erin most recently resided in Alaska, clerking for Chief Justice Joel Bolger on the Alaska State Supreme Court.

Erin has started at Crag just in time for fall, where the cold winds have slowly wafted over Oregon’s landscape, leaving patches of red and gold among the green Douglas firs. She expressed to me her excitement and gratitude for finally residing back in Oregon. When she is not working on forest management cases with the Crag team, Erin has been enjoying exploring Oregon’s outdoors by hiking, camping, and running in preparation for an upcoming marathon!    Erin’s unique experiences and eagerness to learn have aided her ongoing work at Crag. We are grateful to have Erin as our newest staff member, as she brings illuminating perspective and energy to our team.
Lizzy Gazeley

Lizzy Gazeley

Lizzy Gazeley is a Crag Communications Intern for Fall 2021. She is a recent graduate of Whitman College with a BA in Environmental Studies – Politics. In addition to her work at Crag, she is a full-time legal assistant and is studying for the LSAT.

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