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DIRECTOR'S LETTER, FALL 2020 NEWSLETTER


In a year unlike any other, the Stegner Center continues moving forward in the pursuit of a more sustainable future. Although the past year brought many challenges, Stegner Center faculty, staff, and students rose to the occasion, despite the international pandemic and a magnitude 5.7 local earthquake on the eve of our annual symposium. After a busy but normal fall and early spring that included the annual Young Scholar visit, noon green bag presentations, faculty research, and dispute resolution programs, we deftly adapted to the new normal and went virtual to continue our programming and other work. As a result of everyone’s efforts, the Stegner Center and the College of Law continue to be recognized among the top ten environmental law programs in the country.

As the Center was adjusting to this new normal, our colleague Heather Tanana responded to the pandemic’s devastating impact on her Navajo homeland by arranging a massive relief effort to help quell the suffering. Her personal efforts, as you’ll see, not only brought much needed medical supplies and food to her fellow tribal members, but also garnered well-deserved recognition, including the Utah State Bar’s Energy, Natural Resources, and Environmental Law section’s “Lawyer of the Year” award.

Amidst the pandemic and the Salt Lake City earthquake, the Center managed to record most of the speaker presentations planned for our 25th annual symposium on Food and the Environment, ensuring that their insights on this crucial subject are now publicly available for viewing on our website. Before these disruptions, we hosted our annual Young Scholar, Professor Jason Robison from the University of Wyoming, who enlightened the audience on the longstanding relationship between Native American tribes and Grand Canyon National Park, drawing upon this history to argue for a more active tribal role in park management. We look forward to virtually hosting Professor Karen Bradshaw from Arizona State University as our 16th annual Young Scholar and absorbing her insights on wildlife management through the lens of property law.

Other highlights include the Stegner Center’s prominent role as co-host of a virtual National Policy Dialogue on Outdoor Recreation on the Public Lands, which brought forty diverse experts together to examine this important subject as recreational activities continue to escalate and public land communities look to visitors for their economic sustenance. The Center’s Research Program continues to produce significant and timely scholarship addressing proposed NEPA reforms as well as legal strategies to achieve net-zero emissions from fossil fuel development on public lands. The Environmental Dispute Resolution Program has adapted to the virtual world and is conducting its training programs and other work, including a new gateway community initiative, without missing a beat.

My faculty colleagues continue to examine and publish on critical environmental issues, sharing their insights and reform recommendations in top-level environmental law reviews and other journals. Our students continue to distinguish themselves, earning fellowships, scholarships, awards, and externship opportunities, while also competing in the premier environmental law moot court competitions. The newsletter recounts all of this and more, reflecting the Stegner Center’s vital role in the national and local dialogue over environmental policy in this time of unparalleled change. All of us at the Stegner Center thank you for your interest and support, which enables us to maintain our forward momentum as we navigate these unusual times.

Bob Keiter
Director, Wallace Stegner Center