Protecting Biodiversity

Protecting Biodiversity Part 1: Oregon Natural Resources Council v. Block

Neil Kagan tells the story of Oregon Natural Resources Council v. Block, part of his long legal journey enforcing federal environmental resources laws. This case eventually led to protection as “Wilderness areas” of 8 million acres of federal land across 23 states in the United States, holding the land’s natural state in perpetuity.

Neil is an advocate for the protection of wild places, wildlife, and water quality. He also litigated on behalf of the Great Lakes – the largest surface freshwater system on Earth — to protect it from from toxic substances, excessive nutrients, invasive species, and oil spills. He wrote about a few of his cases in Wilderness, Luck & Love and The Elk Creek Dam Story. He served as Director of the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School for two decades.

Protecting Biodiversity, Part 2: The Non-Case of Atchafalaya Basin v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Saving Wetlands in Louisiana)

Oliver Houck tells the story of Atchafalaya Basin v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a case he prepared but never needed to file to protect the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest wetland in the United States. Oliver describes the legal and political negotiations that took place with private interests and public authorities at the local, state, and national levels that led to plans and practices to protect this important ecosystem.

Oliver is the David Boies Chair in Public Interest Law at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana (ret.), where he specializes in environmental, natural resources and criminal law and is active in legal proceedings involving wildlife, wetland, coastal and pollution issues and publishes regularly on these and related topics. He previously served as a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., and as National Wildlife Federation general counsel and vice president. His books include Taking Back Eden (on environmental lawsuits abroad), Down on the Batture (on the Lower Mississippi River), The Clean Water Act TMDL Program (on pollution control), and Downstream Toward Home (on rivers of North America). He holds his B.A. from Harvard and his J.D. from Georgetown.

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