Public Land Conflicts Topic of Rothgerber Conference

January 20, 2004

Exploring how public land conflicts, such as the historic road "rights-of-way" debate in Colorado's Moffat County, are fought and resolved in the political arena was the focus of Colorado Law's 11th Annual Ira C. Rothgerber Jr. Conference. Titled "Constitutional Conflicts on Public Lands," the two-day conference at Fleming on January 30-31 was open to the public. Prominent scholars, political leaders, lawyers, and public administrators gathered at the conference to discuss current events and the history and theory behind them. "Much of the constitutional law of public lands is made in Congress, state capitals and administrative agencies," said Professor Richard Collins, director of the Byron R. White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law. "The courts' role is enforcement of policy, not crafting it, so this conference was a change from the usual focus on decisions made by the United States Supreme Court," Collins said. Along with the Moffat County rights-of-way debate, participants discussed a controversial federal proposal to store nuclear waste at Nevada's Yucca Mountain, constitutional federalism as it relates to public lands, new environmental laws in the 21st century and other issues. The conference was co-sponsored by the White Center and the University of Colorado Law Review. The Byron White Center was founded in 1990 and is funded by generous donations from law school Alumnus Ira C. Rothgerber, for whom the conference is named.