DNRC Forestry and Trust Land Management Divisions

Academic Year/Summer

Faculty Supervisor: Distinguished Visiting Professor Sandi Zellmer

Supervising Attorney
: Mark Phares

Prerequisite: Professional Responsibility, Introduction to Environmental Law

Recommended Courses: It is strongly recommended that students in this clinic take Public Lands and Administrative Law.

Areas of Emphasis: Public land law; environmental and natural resources law; administrative law transactional law; legal research and writing; transactional drafting; regulatory drafting; legislative research; litigation support; potential courtroom work.

Sample Projects
  • Research litigation issues involving ownership of state lands
  • Analyze legal issues surrounding fire response on public lands
  • Review contracts
  • Assist with discovery requests and motions

General Information

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Forestry and Trust Land Management Divisions (“DNRC”) conduct a wide array of legal services, including prosecuting and defending law suits, conducting administrative hearings, drafting contracts and rights-of-way, and providing day-to-day legal advice to agency personnel. Students in the DNRC field placement conduct and/or assist with many of these legal services, including a host of legal research and drafting projects.


DNRC has responsibility for suppressing wildland fires and for maintaining the health of Montana’s forests.  It does so through the administration of programs for community forestry, streamside management zones, and the reduction of hazards related to the harvest of forest products on private property.  The DNRC Trust Land Management Division manages over five million acres of surface land and 6.2 million acres of minerals lands.  It holds these lands in trust for the financial benefit of several State of Montana institutions as provided in Montana’s Enabling Act. State trust land uses range from forest management, real-estate management in the form of residential, cabinsite and commercial leases, agricultural and grazing management, and oil and gas development.