F&ES 951b / 2019-2020

Policy, Politics, and Public Lands

Credits: 3

Spring 2020: Th, 2:30-5:20, Sage 24

The federal government is responsible for the management of over 600 million acres of public lands in the Western United states or about 28 % of the land in the US and more than 100 million acres or 26 % of the lands in Alaska. Over the course of the nation’s history, these public lands and natural resources have been critical to the settlement and
growth of the western states and the health of their communities and the US economy. At the same time, decisions associated with the management and use of the public lands and natural resources have often been and continue to be contentious and controversial. Jim Lyons and Gregg Renkes, graduates of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, have had significant opportunities over the past quarter century in positions in the Congress the Executive and state government in helping guide the management of these public lands. As such, they have had hands on experience resolving some of the more controversial and consequential issues affecting the stewardship of the public’s lands by various federal agencies.

In this course, students will learn how policy, politics, and other factors influence the decisions affecting the use, management, and protection of our public lands. Using a case study approach, students will discuss both past and present natural resource/public land policy issues to understand the conflicts and controversies at play as well as the means by which people with different values, policy objectives, and political affiliations can work together to resolve
contentious land and resource management issues. Students will gain a greater understanding of how natural resource and public land management decisions are made and the factors that are critical to resolving the complex public land management issues. Students will then use this knowledge to work in teams with clients in Washington DC on a current public land management issue of concern to their client. The take-away from the course should be an
appreciation and deeper understanding of the important skills needed and role played by resource management and policy professionals in finding consensus within polarized decision processes subject to special interest advocacy and partisan politics.