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Home WALLACE STEGNER CENTER RESEARCH FELLOWS PROGRAM

Public lands include towering mountains, stunning desert vistas, iconic National Parks, culturally rich treasured landscapes, and cascading rivers—public lands also contain vast stores of renewable and fossil energy resources, as well as valuable timber and minerals. Striking the appropriate balance between resource protection and resource development generates some of the most contentious issues facing the West today. The Stegner Center’s Research Program was established to provide objective legal and policy analysis relating to Western public lands and management of the natural resources they contain.

The scale of these challenges is huge: the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service manage almost 335 million acres or over 44-percent of the land within the eleven contiguous Western states. National Park Service units within this region tallied over 36 million visits during 2020, creating jobs and bolstering local economies. Logging, grazing, and mining are also critically important to both the Western economy and way of life, and during 2020, federal public lands generated billions in revenue for the federal treasury — over $2.7 billion of this revenue was disbursed directly back to state and local governments in Western states.

Native Americans have called this landscape home since time immemorial, and Native Americans are involved in critically important questions at the intersection of environmental law, cultural resource stewardship, and public health. Whether advocating for access to water, remediation of lands spoiled by uranium mining, to protect cultural sites, or any of a long list of issues, Tribes often encounter barriers in asserting their legal rights as sovereign governments.

Students work closely with Stegner Center faculty and staff to produce objective scholarship on some of the most pressing issues in environmental and natural resource law. This scholarship features prominently in efforts to address environmental injustices and the lack of access to potable water in Indigenous communities, to improve environmental protection and permitting programs, to enhance resource planning and management, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

RECENT PUBLICATIONS


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How the federal government can utilize existing laws and regulations to impose restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas wells operating on federal public lands

Download Article Download Paper

Whether statutes or historic precedent provide legal support for President Trump’s reductions to the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments

Download Paper

Whether states have a legal basis for demanding that the federal government surrender title to millions of acres of public lands

Download Paper

The benefits and burdens of environmental review, and how to improve permitting efficiency

Read Article Download Paper Critical Mineral Permitting Evidence-Based Recommendations

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How to address the challenges Tribes face in achieving water security through federal treaty and trust responsibilities

 

Download Paper Tribal Clean Water Water Security

How federal Indian law and policy has impacted public health, fueling the high incidence of COVID-19 among Native Americans, and how Tribes can exercise their sovereign powers to protect their communities

Read Chapter Read Chapter Download Paper

ONGOING PROJECTS


 

How federal agencies can more efficiently implement the National Environmental Policy Act, enhancing public involvement, improving decision-making, reducing environmental impacts, and minimizing litigation

 

How foreign nations can improve legal and institutional performance to more equitably and efficiently manage their natural resources.

 

How Tribes are utilizing traditional knowledge and indigenous science to respond to climate change

CONTACT US


John Ruple

Research Professor & Wallace Stegner Center Fellow
 801-581-6545
 john.ruple@law.utah.edu

John Ruple

Research Professor & Wallace Stegner Center Fellow
 801-581-6545
 john.ruple@law.utah.edu
 University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law
   383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730

Heather Tanana

Research Assistant Professor & Wallace Stegner Center Fellow
 801-585-0480
 tananah@law.utah.edu

Heather Tanana

Research Assistant Professor & Wallace Stegner Center Fellow
 801-585-0480
 tananah@law.utah.edu
 University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law
   383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730

Jamie Gibbs Pleune

Associate Professor of Law (Research)
 jamie.pleune@law.utah.edu

Jamie Gibbs Pleune

Associate Professor of Law (Research)
 jamie.pleune@law.utah.edu
 University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law
   383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730

Tom Mitchell

Research Associate
 tom.mitchell@utah.edu

Tom Mitchell

Research Associate
 tom.mitchell@utah.edu
 University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law
   383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730

Beth Parker

Research Associate
 beth.parker@law.utah.edu

Beth Parker

Research Associate
 beth.parker@law.utah.edu
 University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law
   383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730

PRINCIPAL SPONSORS


""The ESRR Endowment Fund for the
Wallace Stegner Center
Wilburforce Foundation

The Research Program produces research under contract with various federal agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. State Department. We also depend on gifts and grants from generous supporters. The Stegner Center is solely responsible for the content of our research and the views expressed in our publications do not necessarily represent those of any governmental entity or funder. Donors exercise no substantive or editorial control over our research or recommendations.

INTERESTED IN THE RESEARCH FELLOWS PROGRAM?