Public Land Law Conference

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Carved by Glaciers: Stewardship Across the Northern Rockies

In Partnership with the University of Calgary Law School

The Blewett School of Law's Public Land & Resources Law Review will be hosting its 38th Biennial Public Land Law Conference in beautiful Missoula, Montana, October 3-4, 2019. 

Dates: Thursday, October 3 - Friday, October 4, 2019
Location: Alexander Blewett III School of Law, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana

This year's Public Land Law Conference features distinguished speakers from Canada and the U.S. who will compare the countries’ legal approaches to environmental regulation, energy development and infrastructure, climate change, wildlife corridors, water management, fisheries, and indigenous rights in the Northern Rockies. The conference will feature a day-long field trip to the Bitterroot Valley, along with an opening keynote address by Canadian Supreme Court Justice Russell S. Brown.

Register here for the Public Land Law ConferenceRegistration: Register here

  • Educational sessions are free for students and the general public (Thursday keynote and Friday sessions)
  • Optional Thursday field trip with CLE content is $35 (all attendees)
  • $125 for lawyers seeking CLE, Early-Bird Rate until September 13 (Thursday keynote and Friday sessions)
  • $150 for lawyers seeking CLE, after September 3 (Thursday keynote and Friday sessions) 

10.5 CLE credits approved (3.5 for Thursday Field Trip/Opening Keynote; 7.0 for Friday Conference)

The conference agenda is below. All educational sessions will take place in Room 201 at the Blewett School of Law.

Conference Materials:

Field Trip Packet

Conference Packet


Thursday, October 3

Agenda for Thursday, October 3, 2019

7:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Optional Field Trip - Gathering Bitterroot: Lessons from the Lolo


Travel Discussion:  Geology of the Bitterroot

Dr. Payton Gardner (Professor of Geosciences at the University of Montana)


Field Trip Talk 1:  Past, Present, and Future Tribal Resource Management in the Bitterroot and Beyond

Nakia Williamson-Cloud (Nez Perce Cultural Resources Program Director)

Aaron Miles (Natural Resources Manager for the New Perce Tribe)

Myrna Dumontier (CSKT Councilmember)


Field Trip Talk 2:  The Relationship of Law and Wildfire Planning in the Bitterroot Valley and Greater Missoula Area

Dr. Mark Finney (Forest Service Researcher)

Jennifer Hensiek (Missoula District Ranger, Forest Service)


Field Trip Talk 3:  Historic Preservation Law and Land Use Designations

Loren Flynn (Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Regional Manager)


Field Trip Talk 4: The Role of Water and Land Use Law in the Bitterroot Valley

Jed Whiteley (Clark Fork Coalition Project Manager/Monitoring Coordinator)

Tom Reed (Refuge Manager)

5:00 p.m.

Evening Keynote: Judicial Review in Environmental Matters in Canada

The Honourable Russell Brown, Justice, Canadian Supreme Court

6:00 p.m.


Drinks and heavy hors d'oeuvres

Friday, October 4

Agenda for Friday, October 4, 2019

8:15 a.m. 

Welcome and Introductions

8:30 a.m.

The Grass is Always Greener: Environmental Regulatory Approaches of Canada and the United States

Moderator: Dr. Sara Rinfret, Professor of Public Administration, University of Montana

Sharon Mascher, Professor of Law, University of Calgary Faculty of Law

Dave Wright, Professor of Law, University of Calgary Faculty of Law

Shaun McGrath, Director, Department of Environmental Quality, State of Montana

9:45 a.m.


10:00 a.m.

Tilting at Windmills: Pipelines, Renewables, and Our Energy Future

Moderator: Sam Panarella, Professor of Law at the Alexander Blewett III School of Law, University of Montana

Kristen Van De Biezenbos, Professor of Law at the University of Calgary Faculty of Law

Carl Borgquist, President and CEO of Absaroka Energy, Bozeman, Montana

Wes Furlong, Staff Attorney, Native American Rights Fund, Anchorage, Alaska

11:15 a.m.


11:30 a.m.

Elk Don’t Have Passports: International Wildlife Corridors

Moderator: Sandra Zellmer, Professor of Law at the Alexander Blewett III School of Law, University of Montana

Video Introduction: Harvey Locke, Co-Founder and Strategic Advisory, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

Dr. Jodi Hilty, President and Chief Scientist, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

12:30 p.m.


12:45 p.m.

Milking it for all it’s Worth: Waters & Fisheries in A Changing Climate

Moderator: Michelle Bryan, Professor of Law, Alexander Blewett III School of Law, University of Montana

Shaun Fluker, Professor of Law, University of Calgary Faculty of Law

Alastair Lucas, Professor of Law, University of Calgary Faculty of Law

Dr. Jon Drake, Fisheries Biologist and Attorney, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Seattle, Washington

2:00 p.m.


2:15 p.m.

Backbone of the World: Tribes & First Nations as Sovereign Stewards

Moderator: Monte Mills, Associate Professor, Alexander Blewett III School of Law, University of Montana

Nicole Schabus, Assistant Professor of Law, Thompson Rivers University, B.C., Canada

Loren BirdRattler, Project Manager, Blackfeet Agricultural Resource Management Plan, Blackfeet Tribe, Montana

Dr. Shane Doyle, Founder and Lead Consultant, Native Nexus Consulting


3:30 p.m.


3:45 p.m.

Closing Address - The Defense of Necessity: One Canadian Lawyer’s Journey to Address Climate Change

David Gooderham, Retired Canadian Civil Litigation Attorney, Vancouver, British Columbia

*Agenda subject to change.

Lodging Information

Room blocks with a discounted rate have been set up at the following hotels. While it is not necessary to make your reservation in the event room blocks, we encourage you to make a room reservation as soon as possible. 

Hotel Room Blocks

Holiday Inn Downtown Missoula
200 South Pattee Street
Missoula, Montana 59802

Reservations by phone: (406) 721-8550
Group name: "UM School of Law Conference"

Comfort Inn University Missoula
1021 East Broadway
Missoula, Montana 59802

Room Block Online Reservation Page

Reservations by phone: (406) 549-7600
Group name: "Law School"

University of Montana Homecoming 2019

Please be aware that the University of Montana's Homecoming weekend takes place immediately following this year's Public Land Law Conference. Hotel rooms in Missoula will be scarce; please make sure to make your travel arrangements as soon as possible. 

The following are just a few events taking place on Friday and Saturday. For a complete list of UM's Homecoming activities, visit

Friday, October 4:

  • 5:30 p.m. — Distinguished Alumni Awards ceremony and reception, University Center Ballroom
  • 8:00 p.m. — Yell Night Pep Rally on the Oval and lighting of the M
  • 7:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. — All-Alumni Social with UM Marching Band, Holiday Inn Downtown Missoula

Saturday, October 5:

  • 9:45 a.m. — 12th annual Homecoming Hustle 5K Race, start at Higgins and Broadway
  • 10:00 a.m. — UM Homecoming Parade, along Higgins and University avenues
  • 12:00-2:00 p.m. — All-Alumni Homecoming Tailgate, lot 2 in the River Bowl North
  • 12:00-2:00 p.m. — Law Alumni Tailgate, Blewett School of Law
  • 2:00 p.m. — Homecoming Football Game: Montana Grizzlies vs. Idaho State Bengals