John Shurts is the Council's General Counsel. His undergraduate degree in history is from The Colorado College, with a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland and a Ph.D. degree in American History at the University of Oregon, with an emphasis on environmental and legal history. His dissertation on the origin and development of Indian reserved water rights has been published by the University of Oklahoma Press as Indian Reserved Water Rights: The Winters Doctrine in its Social and Legal Context, 1880s-1930s. Shurts is also an adjunct professor at both the University of Portland and Portland State and has been an adjunct at both the law school and the undergraduate campus of Lewis and Clark College and in the history department of the University of Oregon, teaching courses in water resources law and policy, energy law, natural resources law, environmental and natural resources policy, and environmental and world history. He regularly briefs delegations and study tours from different parts of the world on Columbia River and U.S. water, energy, and fish and wildlife issues, including most recently from the Nile basin, the Mekong basin, Vietnam, the Ukraine, South Asia, and north Africa.
In 2004-05 Shurts worked in southern Vietnam on a U.S.A.I.D. canal restoration project. And in 2008 he served as a member of the Anadromous Fish Independent Review Panel organized by the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a comprehensive review of the Central Valley Project’s Anadromous Fish Restoration Program in California. Shurts also speaks and consults separately from his Council work on Indian reserved water rights issues.