Monday, July 25, 2011

Blumm on the Legal History of U.S. Natural Resources

Michael C. Blumm (Lewis & Clark Law School) has posted "The Columbia River Gorge and the Development of American Natural Resources Law: A Century of Significance" at SSRN. Historians of environmental and land use law, and many others, may find it of interest. The abstract follows and the paper is available here.


The Columbia River Gorge, site of the nation’s first national scenic area and the only near sea level passage through the Cascade Mountains, possesses the longest continuously occupied site of human habitation in North America. The Gorge has served as a major transportation corridor between the Pacific and the Great Basin for hundreds of years, is home to spectacular scenery, dozens of waterfalls, many sacred sites, and abundant recreational activities, including world-class kite boarding and wind surfing. The Gorge has also been the location of over a century of legal battles that have made major contributions to American natural resources law. From judicial interpretations of 19th Indian treaties, to the development of the largest interconnected hydroelectric system in the world, to ensuing declines in what were once the world’s largest salmon runs – ultimately resulting in endangered species listings – to innovative federal statutes concerning electric power planning and conservation and land use federalism, to compensation schemes for landowners burdened with regulation, to dam removal and conflicts between sea lions and salmon, the Gorge has spawned a legal history as rich as its geography. This article surveys these developments and suggests that no area of the country has produced more varied and significant contributions to natural resources law.

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