The Stegner Center’s 22nd Annual Symposium, “Water in the West: Exploring Untapped Solutions,” held on March 23-24, 2017, brought together 16 speakers from diverse disciplines from around the country. “This year’s Symposium dealt with water resources in a changing world, but with the conscious goal of providing examples of positive solutions being implemented around the West,” said Robin Craig, the 2016-2017 Acting Director of the Stegner Center and one of the organizers of this year’s symposium. “Thus, the conference highlighted how western water law is adapting to new conditions, how various technologies—from satellites to wastewater treatment—are improving our abilities to manage water, and how NGO and grassroots efforts are creating new management strategies that benefit both humans and the ecosystems they live within.”
The symposium unofficially began on March 22 with the Wallace Stegner Lecture. Eric Freyfogle, the Swanlund Chair and Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, spoke on “Water, Community, and the Culture of Owning.” Professor Freyfogle argued that the best choices about how to manage our limited natural resources, including our water resources, need to come from a greater sense of community and a recognition that we are interdependent and should manage resources for the common good. Professor Freyfogle’s lecture will be published by the University of Utah Press as part of the Stegner Center’s Wallace Stegner Lecture series publications.
On Thursday, the symposium opened with a presentation by Brad Udall of the Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University on “Western Water from 1850-2050: From Bounty and Battles, to Scarcity and Sharing.” This overview of the history and evolving laws governing western water provided a useful shared background for the day’s panel discussions on “Changing Rules” and “Changing Knowledge and Science.” Kevin Fedarko, the author of The Emerald Mile and a writer for National Geographic, delivered an inspirational photographic presentation about his grueling hike along the mid-rim of the Grand Canyon. The day concluded with a keynote presentation on “Securing Our Water Resources in the 21st Century” by Patricia Mulroy, who served as the General Manager of both the Las Vegas Valley Water District and the Southern Nevada Water Authority from 1989-2014 and who currently is on the faculty at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Friday featured panel discussions on “Changing Infrastructure” and “Changing Behavior.” John Fleck, the Director of University of New Mexico Water Resources Program, closed the day with an optimistic presentation on “Water is Not for Fighting Over: How Myths of Crisis and Conflict Get in the Way of Solving the West’s Water Problems.”
Sanne Knudsen, the Stimson Bullitt Endowed Professor of Environmental Law and Associate Professor of Law at the University of Washington School of Law, joined the Stegner Center as the Twelfth Annual Stegner Center Young Scholar on November 3 and 4, 2016. During her residency, Professor Knudsen delivered a Young Scholar Lecture entitled “The Flip Side of Michigan v. EPA: Are Cumulative Impacts Centrally Relevant?” at the College of Law and a Downtown CLE presentation, “Has Michigan v. EPA Elevated the Importance of Cost?,” at Holland & Hart law firm. Her Young Scholar Lecture will be published in an upcoming environmental and natural resources law issue of the student-edited Utah Law Review.
The Stegner Center hosted John Cruden, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Environment and Natural Resources Division, United States Department of Justice, for a noon hour talk on September 22, 2016 on ”Public Lands, Federal Environmental Law, and the Department of Justice” as part of the Stegner Lecture series. He discussed the history of public lands and federal environmental law in the context of the work of the U.S. Department of Justice.
On November 11, 2016 the Stegner Center sponsored a seminar on “Gaining Ground” by Utah Open Lands (UOL), a non-profit land trust conservation association. UOL’s mission is to preserve and protect open space to maintain Utah’s natural heritage and quality of life for present and future generations.
The Stegner Center’s popular noon hour Green Bag Series and Stegner Lecture Series included following speakers:
- “Population and Climate Change: Coupling Earth and Human Systems,” Eugenia Kalnay, Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland
- “Engineering Eden: The True Story of a Violent Death, a Trial, and the Fight over Controlling Nature, “Jordan Fisher Smith, Author and Former Park Ranger
- “The Kolob Tragedy – The Lost Tale of a Canyoneering Calamity,” Noel De Nevers, Author and Professor Emeritus, Chemical Engineering, University of Utah
- “Birds of the World,” Cagan H. Sekercioglu, Assistant Professor, Biology, University of Utah; Honorary Research Associate at the Centre for Biocultural Diversity, Anthropology Department, University of Kent
- “Losing Eden: An Environmental History of the American West,” Sara Dant, Professor of History, Weber State University
- “The Size of Risk: Histories of Multiple Use in the Great Basin,” Leisl Carr Childers, Assistant Professor, Public History and the American West, University of Northern Iowa