UA Law Launches Natural Resource Management Clinic

A new clinic addresses matters pertaining to water, endangered species, public lands, climate change, tribal lands and other natural resource challenges that exist in Arizona and the West.
May 17, 2018

The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law has launched the Natural Resource Use and Management Clinic, which operates at the intersection of the law, policy and science that govern natural resources.

The clinic is affiliated with the College of Law's Natural Resource Users Law and Policy Center, which is operated in partnership with the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Cooperative Extension.

Five law students are actively working with clients through the clinic, which launched in January. Working with multiple stakeholders, the clinic pursues a holistic approach to the use, management and conservation of natural resources and will collaborate on both practical and scholarly projects with the University's many centers of expertise.

"The Natural Resource Use and Management Clinic is a win all around," College of Law Dean Marc Miller said of the college's 15th in-house clinic. "Our law students have gained yet another practical training opportunity, community members have a new resource to assist with previously unmet legal needs, and University of Arizona researchers and scholars can further dig in on interdisciplinary work that advances knowledge and expands our understanding in these important fields."

One key project, in collaboration with the UA's Water Resources Research Center, has students assessing the legal framework surrounding water supply management in a community near Cobre Valley, Arizona. Other students are working with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to analyze the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's newly issued endangered species recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf and what it means for land owners in Arizona and New Mexico.

The clinic also will address issues related to public lands, climate change, tribal lands and resources, and other topics that involve natural resources in Arizona and the West.

"The Natural Resource Users Law and Policy Center and this affiliated clinic are committed to helping natural resource users and managers meet the environmental, legal and policy challenges and promote sustainability for both the resources and the people that depend on them," said George Ruyle, professor and Cooperative Extension specialist in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment. "Our unique partnership links UA Cooperative Extension and the James E. Rogers College of Law to connect stakeholders and current and prospective law students in relevant, problem-solving matters."

Attorney Bethany Sullivan has been hired as the Lohse clinical director to lead the clinic and oversee students. The 2011 Arizona Law graduate formerly served as an attorney-adviser in the Division of Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior, where she counseled the assistant secretary on tribal lands and natural resources. She has worked on issues pertaining to tribal trust lands, reservation boundaries, leasing and rights-of-way, taxation and tribal jurisdiction, and environmental compliance in both the regulatory and federal civil litigation settings.

"This clinic is at the forefront of a new mentality toward natural resources which posits that environmental stewardship and natural resource utilization can, and should, go hand in hand," Sullivan said. "We hope to help bridge gaps between traditional and modern approaches to natural resource use, between academic disciplines, and between urban and rural populations by developing science-based solutions that contribute to a thriving landscape."