The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, through the Wallace Stegner Center, was honored to host the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation 2015 Institute for Natural Resources Law Teachers on May 27-29, 2015. Stegner Center faculty helped to organize the program and participated as moderators and speakers on several panels, including one on Conflict and Collaboration on Utah’s Public Lands. Three faculty members—Robert Keiter, Michele Straube, and John Ruple—from the College of Law, in addition to representatives from the Governor’s Office and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, addressed the Utah Transfer of Public Lands legislation and wilderness designation issues, highlighting experiences with and opportunities for collaborative resolution of these issues. A keynote address was delivered by Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, who explained the city’s many environmental and sustainability initiatives, including its public transportation and energy conservation programs.
The Stegner Center also organized a field trip for participants which highlighted important environmental and natural resources issues related to the Great Salt Lake and Wasatch Mountain ecosystems. Participants traveled north along the Great Salt Lake, east into the mountains, and back south to Salt Lake City. They stopped at the Great Salt Lake Nature Center at Farmington Bay, where they viewed local bird life and walked trails through the wetlands. Presentations focused on the Legacy Parkway controversy that culminated with a Tenth Circuit decision and a negotiated settlement relocating and redesigning the original highway project and related transit projects; the pending West Davis Highway proposal that raises additional wetlands, transportation-planning, and NEPA issues; and water management challenges and related climate change concerns. The second stop was at Antelope Island State Park, where speakers addressed park wildlife management issues and the Great Salt Lake Minerals Company’s development proposals, which have implicated public trust doctrine and other issues. Finally, participants visited Snowbasin Resort in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, where the issues addressed included the transformation of the Ogden Valley for the 2002 Olympics, related road construction and federal land exchange controversies, and wildfire management in wildland-urban interface zones.
The College of Law’s new LEED Platinum building was not yet completed, but participants had an opportunity to tour the building and learn about the exciting sustainability features.