The Natural Resources Division provides general legal and litigation support to the Utah Department of Natural Resources and its Divisions (Forestry, Fire & State Lands; Oil, Gas & Mining; Parks and Recreation; Water Resources; Water Rights; Wildlife Resources; and Utah Geological Survey). The Division also represents and supports the Public Lands Policy Coordination Office and the Constitutional Defense Council and handles certain Indian law matters.
Division attorneys, who are co-located with their clients, maintain specific expertise in the fields of water rights, oil and gas law, public lands, public roads, endangered species, and Indian law, among several others. The attorneys advise clients daily on numerous complex matters and carry heavy caseloads.
The Division’s mission statement is:
To efficiently and effectively represent and advise the Utah Department of Natural Resources and its agencies, the Public Lands Policy Coordination Office, and the Constitutional Defense Council in furthering the public interest in the protection, preservation, development, use, stewardship, and conservation of the State’s public lands, roads, and natural resources.
Important matters of concern to Natural Resources Division clients include:
- Protecting Utah’s interstate water allocations;
- Determining R.S. 2477 rights-of-way across federal lands;
- Litigating with the United States to determine ownership and maintain uses of land near the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge;
- Conserving sensitive wildlife species and ensuring federal Endangered Species Act listing decisions and habitat designations affecting Utah are scientifically and legally substantiated;
- Determining ownership of and access to certain stream beds for recreation uses;
- Assuring contracts and other documents are properly executed;
- Preserving the State’s sovereign authority to manage wildlife resources on private and public lands within its borders;
- Negotiating with the United States and Indian tribes to resolve reserved water rights claims for Indian reservations, national parks, and other federal reservations;
- Assuring all requirements are met to allow appropriate development of lands for extraction of mineral and oil and gas resources; and
- Providing litigation support for the general adjudication of water rights in Utah.