The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law’s 24th Annual Stegner Symposium drew several hundred participants and media attention on March 21-22.
A symposium highlight was “A Conversation with the Secretary” between Sally Jewell, former Secretary of the Interior under President Barack Obama from 2013 to 2017 and Robert Keiter of the University of Utah S. J. Quinney College of Law. Jewell discussed her unique perspective on conservation and recreation, based on her experience as Secretary of the Interior and as former CEO of REI.
The symposium explored many issues related to challenges of recreation on public lands. In recent years, outdoor recreation has become a primary use of the public lands, creating myriad conflicts, challenges, and opportunities. A substantial portion of the public domain is managed for recreation in the form of national parks, national monuments, wilderness areas, and the like, drawing millions of visitors annually. Outdoor recreation is now big business, constituting two percent of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), which is more than agriculture, mining, or oil and gas development individually contribute to the nation’s GDP. Conflicts have grown more intense between recreation users (e.g. hikers, mountain bikers, and ATVers), and new environmental problems have surfaced in the form of soil erosion, water pollution, and wildlife displacement, while the land management agencies lack the necessary resources to effectively address these problems.
Speakers addressed the complexities of those issues over two days.
The Wallace Stegner Center at the S.J. Quinney College of Law offers students one of the top 10 environmental and natural resources law programs in the United States. The Stegner Center, named after the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and conservationist, is dedicated to understanding today’s critical environmental challenges and to increasing public understanding and promoting dialogue about how to live within environmental limits. The center offers students a variety of educational opportunities, including a J.D. certificate in environmental and natural resources law; an LL.M. degree; an environmental clinic and practical skills curriculum; numerous substantive law courses; an environmental dispute resolution program; and a variety of other events and speakers at the College of Law.