NOTE: Course offerings change. Classes offered this semester may not be offered in future semesters.

273.63 sec. 1 - Public Lands and Natural Resources Law (Spring 2013)

Instructor: Eric Biber  (view instructor's teaching evaluations | profile)
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Units: 3
Meeting Time: TuTh 2:10-3:25
Meeting Location: 240

Course Start: January 08, 2013
Course Control Number (Non-1Ls): 49930

Forests are beautiful, but they are also essential to the production of the timber that we use to make paper and build houses. Oil and natural gas remain cornerstones of energy production in the United States, but their development can scar the landscape, destroy wildlife habitat, and (as the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe underscored) devastate oceans and coasts. Millions of acres of grasslands in the United States are devoted to cattle grazing, but at the possible cost of serious soil erosion. Mining for metals is essential to our economy, but requires massive disturbance of the land. We designate lands as parks and wilderness to protect natural values, but at what cost and for what purposes?

How does the law manage these conflicting goals for the management of our natural resources? The answer to that question is particularly challenging in the United States where over 30% of the land is owned by the federal government, including much of the land most valuable for the economic production of natural resources and the protection of important environmental benefits. That percentage rises to over 50% in California, and much higher in other Western states. Accordingly, how the law manages natural resources in the United States involves questions of not just private property, but the design and management of public institutions.

To help answer these questions, this course surveys the management of public and private natural resources, with a particular focus on management of federal lands such as National Forests, Bureau of Land Management lands, and National Parks. The course looks closely at the agencies that manage those public lands, and explores the role that courts and the legal system should play in supervising how those agencies manage the lands and the associated natural resources. We will cover a substantial amount of administrative law and its application to natural resources management. We will also talk about state and federal regulation of natural resources on private lands including oil and gas law and the state public trust doctrine. Statutes covered in detail include the National Forest Management Act, the General Mining Law of 1872, the Taylor Grazing Act, the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Wilderness Act. Students may fulfill the writing requirement through a paper option in this class.

Familiarity with property law, basic US constitutional law, and administrative law are helpful, but not necessary for the class.

Exam Notes: TH/P
Course Category: Environmental Law
This course is cross-listed in the following categories:
Public Law and Policy

The following files are available for this course:

First Assignment

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Required Books are in blue

  • Natural Resources Law
    Publisher: Aspen Publishers
    ISBN: 9780735576247
    Copyright Date: To Be Determined
    Price: $89.98
    Note: prices are sampled from internet bookstores. Folletts prices are unavailable at this time.

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