Friday, November 7, 2014

Mono Lake at 20

A favorite of environmentalists, environmental law professors, and students is the California Supreme Court's 1983 decision in the Mono Lake Case, applying the public trust doctrine in a particularly emphatic way on the side of ecological values. Anyone who's read the case knows that the court didn't apply the trust in a strong, "property" sort of way, but rather sent the issue back to the administrative agency to reconsider diversions from the lake, giving due weight to the values protected by the trust. So what actually happened afterwards?

On November 17 Berkeley Law will be holding a symposium on the issue, "Mono Lake at 20: Past, Present and Future". Note that the "20" is not since the famous court decision, but the 20th anniversary of the ensuing State Water Resources Control Board’s Decision 1631. Michael Kiparsky explains at Legal Planet:
In 1983 the California Supreme Court directed the SWRCB to amend Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s water rights to protect Mono Lake and its tributary creeks. In 1994, the SWRCB issued Decision 1631, its landmark decision in the Mono Lake Cases. The decision was the first in the state’s history to integrate the Water Code, Fish and Game Code, and the common law of public trust, to achieve such a result.
The symposium will address a number of fundamental questions. What are the actual results of implementation of D-1631? What does the decision mean for other water rights, as the State Water Board seeks to determine how best to protect public trust uses of the Delta and Central Valley rivers....
This effort will extend the academic symposia at UC Davis in 1980 and 2011 in several intentional ways. Building on the doctrinal syntheses of the Public Trust Doctrine developed by the scholars at UC Davis, we will seek to move from problem definition towards solutions statements. The symposium will do so by bringing together panelists from multiple perspectives to distill lessons learned from twenty years of concerted effort, placing them in the context of institutional, fiscal, and ecological realities.

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