Natural Resources

Fall 2011 Natural Resources Law Class at UB

Assignment #3 November 20, 2011

The three questions below comprise your final assignment for this class. It is due via e-mail to by 4pm on Monday, December 5th. Please submit all three questions in one document that has your exam number at the top of each page and page numbers at the bottom. You may submit your document in any word or text file, but do not submit it as a PDF. This is an open book assignment, and you may consult any resources you find helpful. However, your course materials and class notes should provide all the information you need to answer these questions. Beside each question, I have indicated the percentage that the individual question is worth. I have also indicated the word limits for each question at the end. Citations are not included in your word count and you should follow the bluebook citation format for court documents. Any questions about the assignment should be asked in class or on the blog. I will not discuss the assignment in office hours.

Question One (20%):

Read this article from the journal Science, and then write an essay arguing for or against protecting wolves under the public trust doctrine. Draw upon common law, statutes, and policy as you feel appropriate. [500 word limit] Note – you must login through UB (either on campus, through a VPN, or via the library’s website) to access the article. If you have trouble, let me know and I will e-mail you a copy.

Question Two (40%):

Beginning in 1980, the Owl Brewing Company began pumping 10,000 gallons of water per day from the Oxnard aquifer. This underground aquifer is fed by Otter River. Many people and animals use the Otter River.

  • Olivia who owns 200 acres of land on either side of the river, has daily been withdrawing 1,000 gallons of water out of the Otter River for her alfalfa farm for the past 20 years.
  • Three miles downstream of Olivia, the city of Oliphant owns a 2-acre parcel where it has built a pumping station. The growing city, which is 5 miles away, has been withdrawing water from the Otter River for 100 years. Although it only withdrew 1,000 gallons a day back in 1911, it now withdraws somewhere around 500,000 gallons a day.
  • Many animals use the river, including the river’s namesake: the North American river otter (Lontra canadensis).

This past year, the weather has been unusually warm and the water levels in both the river and the aquifer have been low. All the users are blaming each other for the lack of water and asserting that they should get first priority. The Owl Brewing Company argues that the city of Oliphant has been growing and expanding and unfairly taking increasing amounts of water each year. The city argues that Olivia is wasting water by choosing a water intensive crop and using inefficient irrigation methods. A local nonprofit group, Otter Oglers, argues that the river otters deserve top priority for water use and the decreased flows are harming the otters’ habitat. (1) Assuming we are in a prior appropriation jurisdiction, how should the water rights be distributed? (2) Assuming we are in a riparian jurisdiction, how should the water rights be distributed? Does it matter whether it is a natural flow or reasonable use jurisdiction? Would anything change if the jurisdiction followed the Restatement? [1250 word limit]

Question Three (40%):

After you finish taking the bar exam, you decide to take a trip to Alaska with your two closest law school friends. You decide to spend a week backpacking on public lands managed by the BLM on the Kenai Peninsula. On the morning of day two, you find an amazing rock (photographed below). You saw it flickering in the sunlight in the water of a creek you were wading across. Later that day, your friend Malik decides to explore a cave he sees. You decided not to accompany him because you were afraid he might stumble into a grizzly bear. Around the campfire that night, Malik (a habitual teller of tall tales) tells you that he saw some sparkly rocks in the cave that he thinks might be copper. Natural Resources was your favorite class, and you and Malik get excited about the idea of staking mining claims. Because your friend Chandra doesn’t want to be left out, she decides that she wants to do some natural gas exploration (which she argues is much more likely to be present and profitable in the area). Explain what you, Malik, and Chandra will have to do legally to establish rights to these three claims. [1250 word limit]



7 Responses to “Assignment #3”

  1. I can’t seem to get the image for question 3 to post from home. I will try again tomorrow and it is doesn’t work, give you all a copy of the picture in class or by e-mail.

  2. amandahu0909 Says:

    Are aquifers considered groundwater? Or can we apply traditional (above-ground) riparian and prior appropriation water rights towards an aquifer? Thank you.

    • I suggest looking up aquifers in a dictionary or encyclopedia if you are uncertain of their structure. They are also mentioned in the case book.

      • amandahu0909 Says:

        I thought aquifers were groundwater, but then I was confused because the Jupiter case applies traditional regulated riparian water use analysis (it barely mentions the fact aquifers are groundwater), unlike our other groundwater cases which apply a more specialized water use analysis for groundwater (like the case that mentions all the different kinds of groundwater use law). The groundwater cases just seem to be a little inconsistent.

      • Eek! Inconsistent case law. How annoying. Good luck with that!

  3. Question from a classmate: I was wondering: for the issue-spotter portion of the exam, what kind of citations are you looking for? I know some professors may not require citations on an issue-spotter exam at all.

    If citations are needed, how should we handle the general statements of law within the casebook? Should we cite to the casebook, or use a database to come up with a representative case?

    Response: I look at this assignment as being similar to an exam in style, but because you get two weeks to work on it and are not constrained by an in-class exam setting, please cite your sources. Just follow the rules of the Blue Book. You may choose to do footnotes or inline citations. As with the other two assignments, the citations will not be counted in your word limits.

  4. Question from a classmate: When we are answering question 2, should we discuss regulated riparianism or simply stick to riparianism? Please advise.

    Response: for riparianism, I ask you specifically to discuss natural flow, reasonable use, and the restatement. You can do more if you have enough words, but not necessary.

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