School navigation

Law Courses Catalog

Law of Columbia River

  • Offered occasionally

The Columbia River - the legendary Great River of the West - is a signature natural resource of the Pacific Northwest. It drains an international watershed the size of France, encompasses unsurpassed scenic landscapes, and once supported the greatest concentration of chinook salmon in the world. Development of the river’s resources has helped to power one of the United States’ most vibrant regional economies. Increasingly however, exploiting the Columbia Basin’s vast economic potential has come into conflict with sustaining its environment and cultures.

This course explores the numerous environmental, legal, and institutional problems surrounding use and management of the Columbia Basin’s natural resources, including its valuable Pacific salmon runs. The course includes examination of a cross section of natural resource issues central to the identity and economy of the Northwest: Indian treaty fishing rights, dam building and operations, statutes such as the Northwest Power Act and Endangered Species Act, and regulations governing diverse issues ranging from protecting the Columbia Gorge’s magnificent scenery to conflicts between hydropower dams and renewable energy facilities. Classes will include guest lectures from experts and practitioners directly involved in Columbia Basin resource issues, and will include at least one major field trip up the Columbia River itself.

Students will write an analytical paper, which can satisfy either of the law school’s WIE or Capstone writing requirements. In addition to writing a paper, students are expected to make a class presentation on their paper, attend all class sessions, and participate in class discussions. This is a three-credit course; the class may occasionally meet for only two hours, but longer meetings allow for guest speakers or field investigations. With work on written materials and projects outside class, as well as class meetings and time required to prepare for class, students will meet ABA requirements for three credits.