With an epic winter now transitioning into spring in Salt Lake City, I’m pleased to report on another successful academic year at the Wallace Stegner Center. Record setting snow in the Wasatch Range is giving rise to flood-stage run off in the mountain streams that is aiding the effort to save the drought- and climate-stricken Great Salt Lake—the subject of the Stegner Center’s 29th annual symposium, as we continue tackling the critical environmental issues of our time. Other Center programs this year addressed Bears Ears National Monument, Utah water law, and the life of former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, who left the nation with an impressive conservation legacy that we are fortunate to enjoy today.
As you’ll note in this newsletter, the Stegner Center faculty—both new and old—have been busy tackling vital natural resource and environmental issues through their research, presentations, and amicus curiae briefs. Our students have also been fully engaged, not only co-writing law journal articles with faculty members but also participating in environmental moot court competitions and the student-run Natural Resources Law Forum.
The Center’s Law and Policy Program, as noted herein, continues to produce cutting edge research—presently focused on water issues and environmental permit reform—that is being widely circulated due to its timeliness and relevance to current policy matters. The Center’s Environmental Dispute Resolution Program remains a mainstay in the field of conflict resolution through its training programs, coaching activity, practitioner networking initiative, and timely blog posts on best practices. Both programs have grown in recent years, enabling them to address an array of contemporary issues and challenges, including the EDR Program’s joint initiative with Utah State University focused on Gateway and Natural Amenity Region communities.
I end, unfortunately, on a profoundly sad note as this spring we lost our beloved colleague, Alex Tall Chief Skibine, the S. J. and Jessie E. Quinney Professor of Law. Alex was a prolific and highly respected Indian Law scholar, an esteemed teacher, and devoted mentor to younger faculty and students. He was always ready to engage in a deep discussion on nearly any subject, to contribute unselfishly to the law school and Stegner Center, and to share his insights and advice when requested—with a warm smile on his face and twinkle in his eye that endeared him to all. Fittingly, the College of Law has established a scholarship in Alex’s name to attract Native American students to the study and practice of law.