Public Lands

Air quality and wildfire

We may need to burn more to get less smoke

One of the impacts of California’s difficult fire season has been air pollution. Fires produce smoke. Large wildfires produce a lot of smoke. And large wildfires in the southern Sierra Nevada produce smoke in the southern Central Valley – the part of the United States that already has some of the worst air quality in […]

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The First Environmentalist Law Teacher


William Colby (1870-1964), a pioneering figure in the Sierra Club from Berkeley's past

I’m pretty sure that William E. Colby  qualifies as the nation’s first environmentalist law teacher, if only because environmentalism was very young at the time..  Colby was a lecturer on mining law and water law at Berkeley for twenty-one years, retiring in 1936.  (That doesn’t make him the first natural resources teacher;  Judge Lindley had taught […]

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The Future of Fire Policy

Climate change will require reconsideration of how we manage fire

It has been a brutal fire season here in California. It’s been brutal in part because of a historically bad drought. But unfortunately, the end of the drought (when it comes) will not be the end of our fire problems. Those fire problems are the result of long-term, human-caused trends that will only continue: climate […]

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Anti-CEQA Lobbyists Turn to Empirical Analysis, But Are Their Conclusions Sound?

Influential Attacks on California's Environmental Impact Law Aren't Supported By the Data

Every August, as the California legislative session comes to a head, lobbyists attempt to gain support for dramatically scaling back California’s landmark environmental law, CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act).  This year was no exception.  Last month, the law firm Holland and Knight, which has been a leading force on this issue, issued a new […]

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Should we allow electric bikes on hiking paths?

Pending state legislation would allow just that

Bicycling is great for the environment and your health. But it also can be a lot of work, especially when you have to go up a steep hill. That’s where electric bikes can be handy – and thanks to lighter motors and other innovations, they have really taken off. They’re particularly useful when you are […]

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Petroglyphs? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Petroglyphs!

petroglyps 2

So says the House Natural Resources chairman.

Henry Ford famously said “history is bunk.” A House committee chair went him one better today, dismissing prehistoric art with the term “bull crap.” Now that I’ve got your attention, here’s a little background. President Obama today designated a new 704,000 acre Basin and Range National Monument under the Antiquities Act. This immediately set off a […]

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Could a Riparian Conservation Network increase the ecological resilience of public lands?


A new article suggests river corridors could leverage existing policies to build habitat connectivity

As we try to protect biological diversity for the future, a perpetual challenge is ensuring that the strategies we adopt today will continue to work in the face of changing conditions. How can we design conservation approaches that will be resilient in the face of environmental challenges that will only become more severe in coming years? […]

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A (Previously) Unsung Environmental Champion

High Country News

John Podesta Is (Finally) Getting Some Credit: What Might It Mean for a President Hillary Clinton?

If you don’t read the High Country News, you should: it is a tremendously good independent source for environmental news, particularly news affecting the Intermountain West. And particularly given the collapse in a lot of good journalism, it is important to support it. HCM’s most recent issue, though, is less Wyoming and more Beltway. It […]

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The Battle to Restore Hetch Hetchy Valley Moves to the Courts

Hetch Hetchy Valley in early 1900's, Before Valley's Inundation

New Lawsuit Claims Dam and Reservoir in Yosemite National Park Violate California Constitution

This week, the longstanding battle over the dam and reservoir that have for a century flooded Yosemite National Park’s storied Hetch Hetchy Valley moves to the courts. A new lawsuit, filed by conservationists on the 177th anniversary of  John Muir’s birth, asserts that the City of San Francisco’s continued operation of O’Shaughnessy Dam and Hetch Hetchy Reservoir […]

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California Supreme Court to Decide Whether the Mining Law Preempts State Ban on Suction Dredge Mining

Court's Decision May Affect State's Ability to Regulate Activities on Federal Lands

The California Supreme Court recently accepted a case that may make it more difficult for the state to protect the environment from the damaging impacts of mining. At issue is the state’s ban on suction-dredge mining in streambeds. Californians engaged in suction-dredge mining have vigorously fought against the state’s ban, and a panel of the […]

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