Scott Hutchins, a 2L at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, recently received a David C. Williams Fellowship. The David C. Williams Memorial Fellowship is administered by the College of Social and Behavioral Science and provides financial support for students enrolled in the University whose scholarship is committed to the principles of stewardship and sustainability in the management of public land. Hutchins’ project is an expansion of a paper he is working on for Professor Michele Straube’s Environmental Conflict Resolution class that focuses on a case study of the Vision Dixie process and the Washington County Lands Bill.
In the interview below, Hutchins describes the roots of his interest in environmental law and elaborates on the details of the project.
Can you describe how you became interested in environmental and natural resources law? What inspired you to take Professor Straube’s ECR class?
I became interested in environmental and natural resources law because I have had a life-long passion for recreating in the great outdoors, and I believe the best use of my legal education will be in working on natural resource and energy issues on our public lands. I wanted to take the ECR course because it will help me develop skills that can be used outside the courtroom to solve problems that inevitably arise at the intersection of natural resources, public lands, developing communities, conservation, and sustainability.
Describe the paper you’re writing on the Vision Dixie process and the Washington County Lands bill.
My paper concerns the background, development, products, and unresolved issues arising from the community collaboration called Vision Dixie and the legislation called the Washington County Lands Bill. The analysis focuses primarily on the collaborative dispute resolution processes that were employed by the community. The product of the analysis will be a description of the lessons learned and successes of the collaboration with regards to conflicts over development, conservation, multi-agency land management, and legislated land use designations.
How have your classes at the College of Law prepared you for the fellowship?
My classes at the College of Law have prepared me for this fellowship by equipping me with the analytical tools, writing skills, and substantive knowledge of the law as it relates to public lands and natural resources.
What does the fellowship entail?
For the fellowship I will expand on the analysis of Vision Dixie and the Lands Bill and address the following topics in a major paper:
- The principles of stewardship and sustainability in the management of public lands;
- The development and practice of collaborative multi-agency planning with an emphasis on ecosystem management and long-term sustainability;
- The concept of a national landscape conservation system, and how various land management agencies would work together in such a system; and
- The active participation of local government units, nonprofit organizations, and citizens in the challenges and privileges of planning for the stewardship of our precious national resources.
Because the paper will have practical utility for public lands managers and policy-making organizations it will be distributed to managers in the UT BLM State and Field Offices as well as other public lands agencies who might benefit from such an analysis. I also intend to submit the final product for publication in a law review journal.
Anything else you would like to add?
I want to thank Michele Straube, Juan Palma, and John Ruple for their support and advice on this project. I would also like to thank the College of Social and Behavioral Science and the selection committee for the opportunity to carry on the work of David C. Williams with my project.