Jim Pepper was born in Annapolis, Maryland and went to law school at Georgetown University. He began working for the National Park Service in the Division of Plans and Objectives in 1971. He worked for the National Park Service in Washington DC during the time of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which set aside over a 100 million acres of public lands in Alaska. He was very involved in land use policy, management, and legal issues related to Alaska's national parks. Jim spent more than 30 years of his life working for the park service on many levels.