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About The Evolution of Natural Resources Law and Policy
Co-published with the Natural Resources Law Center, University of Colorado School of Law
Natural resources law has emerged over the last 60 years as a dynamic and challenging field of practice, with a rich and colorful history that reaches back to the beginning of the United States. Globalization, corporate dominance, and shifts in resource management may seem like the latest topics, but as this book points out, they are nothing new. The North American continent was "discovered" by Europeans during an era of expanding global trade, and quasi-public actors such as the Massachusetts Bay Company and Hudson's Bay Company, as well as private concerns such as the railroads, played huge roles over the centuries.
The contributors to The Evolution of Natural Resources Law and Policy do more than take a look at the past, however: they chart the course of the future as well. Throughout the book shows how the role of the federal government continues to be a complex one, as markets and private actors become more visible participants in the current policy arena.
The first part -- Reflections on Natural Resources Law and Policy -- comprises foundational analyses of the law. The first chapter begins with an historical tour through federal land policy and offers three different perspectives: an "incremental vision" that forecasts the future evolving slowly from past policy; an optimistic view that a change in property rights law will restore the primacy of public rights in public lands; and a less positive scenario where climate change limits the ability of resource-based institutions to cope with future challenges. Other chapters considering the foundations of natural resources law address:
Ethical questions involved with climate change and sustainability
The limitations of classical cost-benefit analysis applied to natural resources law
The continuing importance of tort and property law to the field of natural resources
Property rights in natural resources law, which are traditionally either too clear or too vague
The myriad problems that arise under the U.S. Constitution in natural resources law
In Part II, The Evolution of Resource Management, chapter authors review thematic issues in natural resources law and policy. Acting as a bridge between the two parts is a discussion of natural resources decision-making processes, explaining the public processes used by natural resource agencies to promote meaningful engagement between the public and decision makers. Subsequent chapters in Part II include these topics:
The role that names and labels -- such as "primitive," "wilderness," and "multiple use" -- play in public land use planning
The protection of special places and the "gathering consensus" that protected areas must encompass large landscapes and ecosystems
How the removal of the Elwha Dam puts the risks and costs on the public part of the "public-private partnership"
Species protection under three paths: the Endangered Species Act, biodiversity conservation, and ecosystem management
The "new realities" of western water law
The future of mineral development, especially on public lands
A final chapter weaves together ideas and analysis from previous chapters in a discussion of forests and grasslands management.