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Courses|College of Law

Public Lands

Call Number: 19695
Course Number: 6800-01
Professor: Debra L. Donahue
Credit Hours & Type of Credit: 3
Semester Offered: Fall
Required: No
Prerequisites: Students must have completed their first year of law school.
Recommended Courses: Administrative Law

Course Overview: This course offers an introduction to diverse laws governing federal public lands and resources, and is valuable to anyone who plans to practice law or a related profession in the West or work for a federal land management agency. The course surveys case law and legislation spanning nearly 200 years. It begins with an historical overview of the evolution of federal land and resource policy. It then takes up the relationship between Congress and the states, exploring Congress's authority under the Property Clause and federal preemption of state laws that conflict with federal policies. A review of Executive Branch authority follows. The course then explores the substantive laws concerning water, minerals, timber, range, wildlife, recreation, and wilderness, on BLM lands, national parks, national forests, and wildlife refuges. These laws include the National Environmental Policy Act, General Mining Law of 1872, Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, National Forest Management Act of 1976, Taylor Grazing Act, Federal Land Policy and Management Act, Endangered Species Act, and Wilderness Act. Throughout the course we consider how politics, interest groups, and the public influence federal resources policy and decision making.

Course Materials: See the current Book List located under Courses and Curriculum.
Course Format: Lecture and discussion.
Written Assignments: None
Type of Exam: Open book final exam.
Basis for Grading Student Performance: Student performance will be assessed on the basis of the exam, class participation, and a short, oral presentation.
Other Comments: Public Land Law is a complex and fascinating blend of law, history, science, economics, and politics. Any student who plans to remain in the West, where the vast bulk of federal public lands are found, would benefit from an introduction to these issues.

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