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October 16, 2006

Oct. 26-27:Top Interior Department official Michael Bogert keynotes Tribal Water Rights Conference

October 26-27
Northwest Tribal Water Rights Conference
Top Interior Department official Michael Bogert speaks on “Sovereignty, Certainty, and Opportunity”

Policy makers, tribal leaders and legal scholars will grapple with  contentious issues swirling around the use of negotiated settlements to resolve tribal water rights disputes in the Northwest at this two-day event at the University of Oregon School of Law, 1515 Agate Street in Eugene.

On Thursday, October 26, panelists confront the growing global crisis of a dwindling water supply from the perspective of indigenous peoples.

On Friday, October 27, panelists discuss alternative dispute resolution approaches and other legal strategies that can be used to resolve water disputes.

The conference opens at 8 a.m. on both days.

Cost is $325 and includes CLE credits and lunches
UO faculty, staff and students are admitted free with pre-registration. (lunch not included)
For more information on the conference and Continuing Legal Education credits, call Jill Forcier at 541-346-3845 or Email  enr@uoregon.edu.


Michael Bogert, counselor to Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, will deliver a keynote address at noon on Friday. 

He will discuss “Sovereignty, Certainty and Opportunity: Secretary Kempthorne’s Vision for Tribal Water
Rights Settlements in the West.”
Disputes over the allocation of water blanket the western landscape. In various basins, the Secretary of the Interior has initiated a process for negotiated settlement. These negotiated settlements have enormous implications for tribal people, water users, fish stocks, hydropower generation, and environmental quality.
Assistant Professor Adell Amos, director of the law school’s Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program said the Interior Department plays a significant role in the initiation, structure, and ultimate resolution of negotiated settlements.
“We are thrilled to to hear from one of the new secretary’s leading advisors and connect Washington, D.C. decision makers with local leaders in the Northwest,” Amos said.
The 2006 conference is sponsored by the Appropriate Dispute Resolution Center and the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program at the law school in conjunction with the conference founder, the Center for Water Advocacy.
The Center for Water Advocacy is a public interest policy and legal advocacy organization dedicated to protecting water resources in the Northwest United States.
Harold Shepherd, the center’s executive director, said tribal water rights remain one of the last vestiges for protecting water and riparian and other resources on tribal and federal lands. 

“Settlement agreements provide the critical mechanism for protecting water resources and fish habitat in these areas,” Shepherd said.

The first day of the conference will focus on the global significance of the increasing pressure on dwindling water resources, the commodification of water on an international scale and how livestock grazing, logging, mining, water diversions, and other resource extraction issues affect water availability on private lands.

Legal strategies to resolve these issues will take center stage on day two of the conference. Panelists will discuss how settlement negotiations are structured, who is invited to participate, and the cultural and ethical issues that arise.

Now in its third year, The Northwest Tribal Water Rights Conference was the first gathering to focus on these issues in the region. It brings representatives from 14 tribes in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho; government agencies; and the legal community to discuss ideas, share strategies, and develop solutions.
Participants include two tribal consortia groups, five non-profits focusing on water issues, the Oregon Department of Justice, the Oregon Senate, faculty and students from two Oregon Universities, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and 15 law firms in the Pacific Northwest. 


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