Published in Teton Home and Living, spring/summer 2013:
Thomas M. Campbell, III, graduated from Colorado State University in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology. After working for two years with the Colorado Division of Wildlife studying sage grouse, mule deer, and band-tailed pigeons, he accepted a job conducting independent research on pine martens in the Mt. Leidy Highlands above Triangle X Ranch in Jackson Hole. He turned this research into his graduate work at CSU, and then returned to Jackson; he started his environmental consulting business [Biota Research and Consulting, Inc.] in 1980. [Below is a 2013 interview conducted by Teton Home and Living with Tom Campbell in 2013.]
What is your approach to environmental design in the Tetons?
I have hired a core group of professional scientists that specialize in a variety of relevant environmental disciplines. This team approaches projects with a perspective of letting the physical and biological attributes of a project area guide us as to what type of actions are appropriate and most likely to be successful. We often work collaboratively with other consultants possessing skills in complementary areas.
What inspires you?
When an environmental design project achieves or exceeds all of our expectations, and the environmental benefit is so obvious that it’s staggering.
What do you enjoy most about the business?
I enjoy the diversity of the work and the independence we are typically given to attain project goals and objectives.
How has your business evolved in the last ten years?
We have seen a strong uptick in the environment enhancement and design project arena. We have completed more fish-habitat and wildlife-habitat improvement projects—and wetland creation and enhancement projects—in the past decade than in the preceding twenty years.
What are you planning in the next ten years?
Biota is positioned to adapt to an ever-changing work environment. We continue to educate ourselves and are constantly on the lookout for new business opportunities that will be fun and professionally rewarding, while being environmentally meaningful and sustainable.
What’s your style?
Pretty laid back. I have been doing this work for over three decades, and during this time I’ve learned how to get things done and how to interact with clients in the most professional, efficient, and effective ways.
What makes your business different?
My staff works as a team, a well-oiled machine if you will, that is flexible and adaptable. I personally, and my staff collectively, have very high professional standards and conservation ethics. One of the raps that environmental consultants have is that they sacrifice their professionalism in order to keep clients happy. I do not subscribe to that premise. We believe these things are not mutually exclusive. And when we find ourselves in a contentious setting, we maintain these high standards and ethics and believe they carry the day. If they do not, we will remove ourselves from the working environment.
Can you describe an interesting project?
One that immediately comes to mind is a fish-habitat enhancement project we have been working on since 1993. This project has had demonstrable success that vastly exceeded our and our client’s expectations. We increased native cutthroat trout spawning in the project watercourse more than eleven-fold, and this spawning has directly benefited the Snake River fishery, resulting in similar efforts throughout the drainage.