The West is rife with land and natural resource protection and management challenges, many of which are exacerbated by climate change and population growth. Issues include forest health and fire prevention; the management of ranch and farm lands; energy development (both traditional fossil fuels and renewable energy); threatened and endangered species; water quality; and land development regulation. Natural resource law and policy are also in flux, as localities, states and the federal government seek to adapt their systems to a changing world. Our team is well-qualified to help you navigate all of these natural resource issues and more. We each have strong grounding in the full range of environmental laws and policies, and have a finger on the pulse of changes on the horizon. We also benefit from our relationship with Perkins Coie, whose nationally-recognized environmental practice can provide our clients will access to specialized expertise in many key areas of environmental and natural resources law.
With the majority of lands in the Western United States held in some form of public ownership, most land development projects, industrial and energy facility projects, and water and natural resource policy issues will intersect with public lands as well. Our team has experience working with a variety of public land classifications and public land managers, including the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the various state agencies charged with managing, developing, and preserving state trust lands. Our team also has experience with the development and management of projects on tribal lands, including work with various federally-recognized Indian tribes, aboriginal land claims, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Our attorneys have been involved with a variety of public lands-related matters, including landscape-level planning work, the siting and permitting of energy facilities, pipelines, and other infrastructure, environmental impact analysis, investigation of archeological and historic sites, and policy reforms to facilitate both responsible development and preservation of public landscapes.
- Representing clients in the siting and development of renewable and natural gas energy projects, including air and water permitting, NEPA, ESA, Section 404, and other environmental reviews, and supporting related environmental and community outreach, real estate acquisitions, facility transfers, and financing transactions.
- Representing a stakeholder group in the development of a comprehensive reform of Arizona's constitutional and statutory framework for the management of 9.3 million acres of state trust lands.
- Assistance to an alliance of landowners and local government officials in the Texas Hill Country, dealing with land development, habitat protection and growth pressures.
- Establishing and working with a coalition of conservation organizations to change the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approach to wetlands protection and restoration in coastal Louisiana and developing a Section 404 permitting approach utilizing combined nationwide general permits for a restorative agriculture strategy.
- High-level engagement in a NEPA process leading to the development of a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision for the operation of the major federal dams on the Colorado River system, including the successful development of a complete stakeholder-developed alternative in the EIS, supportive hydrological modeling, and detailed comments on other alternatives.
- Management of a team promoting innovative approaches to Endangered Species Act compliance, including habitat conservation plans, safe harbor agreements, and use of conservation funding from the federal Farm Bill.
- Developing a proposed plan for the formation of an inter-tribal Natural Resource Damage trustee to address legacy uranium contamination on tribal lands.
- Advising a state land manager on approaches to develop conservation and mitigation banks on state-owned trust lands.
- Assisting a master plan developer in the negotiation of a comprehensive resource management plan covering private, state, and federally-owned lands.
- Advising ranchers and farms on project permitting, including Clean Water Act compliance.
- Planning land exchanges with the Bureau of Land Management to address land development and land conservation needs.
- Advising on the siting of solar energy facilities on public lands and permitting for transmission lines, roads, and pipeline projects across public lands, including BLM and U.S. Forest Service lands.
- Establishing a comprehensive program at a leading non-profit organization develop tools, legal mechanisms and agency capacity for state trust land management in eleven western states.
- Drafting legal guidebooks and policy guidance related to state trust land management in the western United States.
- Representing entities doing business with federally-recognized Indian tribes on tribal lands, including issues related to environmental permitting and compliance, tribal sovereignty, and tribal law and civil jurisdiction issues on reservation lands.