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Adell Amos

Clayton R. Hess Professor of Law

Environmental Studies, Law, Law-JD, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center
Phone: 541-346-3826
Office: 354 Knight Law Center


Adell L. Amos holds the Clayton R. Hess Professorship and serves as the Executive Director for the Environment Initiative at the UO. She teaches regularly in the nationally ranked Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program, including courses in Water Law, Federal Administrative Law, Environmental Conflict Resolution, and Oregon Water Law and Policy. Her teaching and scholarship have been recognized by the UO Fund for Faculty Excellence and the Hollis Teaching Awards.

Her research emphasizes the jurisdictional governance structures that are deployed for water resources management in the United States and internationally. She focuses on the relationship between federal and state governments on water resource management, the role of administrative agencies in setting national, state, and local water policy, the role of law in developing water policy and responding to change, and the impact of stakeholder participation in water resource decision-making. She is currently working on a multi-year project which focuses on the integration of law and policy into hydrologic and socioeconomic modeling for the Willamette River Basin through a multi-institutional, interdisciplinary effort funded by the NOAA and the National Science Foundation.

Professor Amos earned her B.A in 1995 from Drury College and her J.D. in 1998 from the University of Oregon (Coif). She is a member of the Missouri bar, admitted in 1999.  After law school, Amos clerked on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for The Honorable Procter Hug, Jr. (then Chief Judge).  Amos first joined the faculty in 2005 after practicing environmental and natural resources law with the U.S. Department of Interior. In 2008, Amos returned to Washington DC to serve in the Obama Administration as the Deputy Solicitor for Land and Water Resources at the U.S. Department of the Interior. Amos returned to the UO School of Law in 2011 as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

In her role as Deputy Solicitor, Amos oversaw legal and policy issues involving the nation’s water resources and public lands. She supervised a team of attorneys in DC and across the country providing legal and policy counsel directly to the Secretary of Interior and Deputy Secretary as well as the offices for the Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, the Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In particular, she worked directly on water resilience and planning, wilderness policy, the National Landscape Conservation System, renewable energy and its associated water footprint, low-impact hydropower, dam removal efforts including the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, and many others. Amos returned to UO with renewed energy for the importance of teaching and researching in the area of water resource management, public participation, and the role of law in the policy arena.

Amos first joined the faculty in 2005 after practicing environmental and natural resources law with the U.S. Department of Interior in Washington DC. She worked as an Attorney- Advisor and served as the national lead on water and natural resources issues in the Office of the Solicitor, Division of Parks and Wildlife, where she represented and advised the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service on state and federal water rights and water management issues. Her portfolio included work in most of the major river basins in the United States – including the Klamath, Snake, Columbia, Middle Rio Grande, Mississippi, Colorado, Gunnison, Platte, and others. She provided legal and policy advice on the interaction of state and federal water law with the full range of environmental statutes including the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the Federal Power Act, Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Her work also included the Park Service Organic Act, the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, the Reclamation Act, the Flood Control Act among other authorizing legislation for federal agencies.

In addition to her most recent work in the Willamette River Basin, she also has active projects underway addressing the status of state instream flow programs throughout the Western United States, the impact of legal decision-making on public policy dispute resolution efforts in water-conflict basins, and strategic efforts to protect water resources for national public lands including the National Wildlife Refuge System, the National Park System and the newly created, National Landscape Conservation System. She has published broadly in the field of water law including, most recently “Scope and Limitations of Drought Management within Complex Human-Natural Systems” co-authored with William K. Jaeger, David Conklin, Christian Langpap, Kathleen Moore, and Andrew Plantinga, in Nature Sustainability and "Scarcity Amid Abundance: Water, Climate Change, and the Policy Role of Regional System Models," co-authored with William K. Jaeger, Daniel P. Bigelow, Heejun Chang, David R. Conklin, Roy Haggerty, Christian Langpap, Kathleen Moore, Philip W. Mote, Anne Nolin, Andrew J. Plantinga, Cynthia Schwartz, Desiree Tullos, and David T. Turner, (Willamette Water 2100 Project) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (peer reviewed).

Amos’ research has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy, Nature Sustainability, as well as many law reviews and journals.  She currently serves on the Advisory Board for the Hewlett Foundation’s Open Rivers Fund.  In recognition of her work on water law and policy, she served as a Distinguished Visiting Professor in Environmental Law at Vermont Law School and has been a frequent keynote speaker and panelist for a wide range of organizations including the National Judicial College, Washington University, American Water Resources Association, the Oregon Legislative Caucus, the Federal District Court Conference, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, and the Wingspread Foundation.  Her work has received funding from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Commerce – NOAA Fisheries, Natural Resources Defense Council, the NorthLight Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of the Interior – Bureau of Land Management, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, among others.


Law Review Publications

“Redrawing Our Urban Waters: Merging Design, Law, and Policy in Advancing Distributed Water Systems” co-authored with Brook Muller, Josh Cerra, Chingwen Chen, David Feldman, Tatum Lau, Noelwah Netusil, and Erik Porse, chapter in Routledge Handbook on Sustainable Cities and Landscapes (in publication cycle, expected in edited volume Fall 2021).
“Scope and Limitations of Drought Management within Complex Human-Natural Systems” co-authored with William K. Jaeger, David Conklin, Christian Langpap, Kathleen Moore, and Andrew Plantinga, 2 Nature Sustainability 710 (peer reviewed) (2019) DOI 10.1038/s41893-019-0326-y, available at
"Scarcity Amid Abundance: Water, Climate Change, and the Policy Role of Regional System Models," co-authored with William K. Jaeger, Daniel P. Bigelow, Heejun Chang, David R. Conklin, Roy Haggerty, Christian Langpap, Kathleen Moore, Philip W. Mote, Anne Nolin, Andrew J. Plantinga, Cynthia Schwartz, Desiree Tullos, and David T. Turner, (Willamette Water 2100 Project) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (peer reviewed) (October 23, 2017) DOI:10.1073/pnas.1706847114, available at

“Evaluating Instream Flow Programs: Innovative Approaches and Persistent Challenges in the Western United States,” co-authored with Christopher R. Swensen, 61 Rocky Mt. Min. L. Inst. 22-1 (November 2015) (peer reviewed).    | Bepress | PDF | SSRN |

“Developing the Law of the River: The Integration of Law and Policy into Hydrologic and Socio-Economic Modeling Efforts in the Willamette River Basin,” 62:4 Kansas University Law Review, May 2014.  | Bepress | PDF | SSRN |

“Dam Removal and Hydropower Production in the U.S.—Ushering in a New Era,” 29(1) Journal of Environmental Law & Litigation, May 2014, | Bepress | PDF | SSRN

'Advancing Freshwater Conservation in the Context of Energy and Climate Policy: Assessing Progress and Identifying Challenges in the Western United States,' 12:1 Denver Water Law Review, Fall 2008. | Bepress | PDF |

'Hydropower Reform and the Impact of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 on the Klamath Basin: Renewed Optimism or Same Old Story?,' 22(1) Journal of Environmental Law & Litigation, Summer 2007. | SSRN | Bepress | PDF | Online |

'The Use of State Instream Flow Laws for Federal Lands: Respecting State Control while Meeting Federal Purposes' 36:4 Environmental Law, December 2006. | SSRN | Bepress | PDF |


WATER LAW IN A NUTSHELL, SIXTH EDITION, co-authored with Zellmer, West Academic Publishing, (June 2015).

Professional Writing

“BUILDING TRUST: Public Trust Principles in State Water Law that Encourage Sustainable Management of Water Resources and Promote Principles of Intergenerational Equity” co-authored with Michelle Smith for the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Northlight Foundation, (August 2020), available at

“Implementing the UO Environment Initiative: Report on Campus Engagement Process and Recommendations for Implementation,” co-authored with Jill Elizabeth, available at”
“Mechanisms for Protecting Groundwater-Dependent Ecosystems,” co-authored with Clinton Donegan Burke, for The Nature Conservancy, August 2018, available at
“Why it makes little sense to regulate rainwater barrels in the dry western U.S.,”, March 25, 2016. | Online |

Scenarios of Future Water Availability in the Willamette River Basin Driven By Climate Change, Economics and Population to the Year 2099, Draft Executive Summary, December 2, 2015. | Online |

“Why the BLM’s Decision on Cadiz Was the Right One,” San Bernardino Sun Times, October 31, 2015. | Online |

“EPA’s Clean Water Rule: What’s at Stake and What Comes Next,” The Conversation, June 3, 2015. | Online |

Policy Letter for National Parks Conservation Association, to U.S. Department of the Interior, March 2010.

'Freshwater Conservation: A Review of Oregon Water Law & Policy,' for The Nature Conservancy, August 2008 (available through the Nature Conservancy Office in Portland, Oregon). | PDF |

'Policy Agenda Connecting Energy, Climate, and Water: Working within the Prior Appropriation System,' International Municipal Lawyers Association, Published Conference Proceedings, September 2008.

'More Dam Process: Relicensing of Dams and the 2005 Energy Policy Act,' co-authored with Rick Eichstaedt and Rebecca Sherman, 50:6/7 The Advocate: Official Publication of the Idaho State Bar 33, June/July 2007. | SSRN | Bepress | PDF |

'Environmental Law Teachers' Perspectives on Preparing New Lawyers for Practice,' co-authored with Sean B. Hecht and Janice L. Weis, American Bar Association 36th Conference on Environmental Law Published Proceedings, Keystone, Colorado, March 8-11, 2007. Awarded a Certificate of Recognition for 'Best Paper at 36th Annual Conference on Environmental Law.' | SSRN | Bepress | PDF|

'Emerging Water Law Trends in the Eastern United States: Will the Eastern Story Differ from the Western Experience?' American Bar Association, Eastern Water Resources: Emerging Issues in Competition, Science & Politics, Published Proceedings, May 11, 2006. | Online |

'Measure 37 is Overturned' Invited Opinion Editorial, Oregonian, October 23, 2005.

'Ecosystem Management and the Role of Water Resources,' American Bar Association, Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Ecosystems Committee Newsletter, Volume 7, Issue 2 (March 2004). | SSRN | Bepress  | PDF |


Facilitator and Presenter, APRU Student Global Climate Change Simulation, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon (August 25, 2021).
Invited Panelist, “Legal Careers in the Federal Government,” University of Oregon School of Law, Eugene, Oregon (August 25, 2021).
“Wicked Problems – Interdisciplinary Research in the Willamette River Basin,” Presentation with INFEWS, Faculty Colloquium, University of Oregon School of Law, Eugene, Oregon (March 18, 2021).
Presenter, “Advancing Clean Energy in Oregon: Webinar for the Oregon Legislature,” An Interdisciplinary Project of the University of Oregon’s Environment Initiative, University of Oregon (January 6, 2021).
Facilitator, Environment Initiative Campus Engagement Workshops, UO Provost’s Office, University of Oregon (November 18, November 19, December 2, 2020).
“Current Issues in Water Law,” Presentation, Dividing the Waters Conference, The National Judicial College (June 17, 2020).
Invited Panelist, “The Limits of Law: Kids Vaping – A Public Health Crisis,” Oregon Child Advocacy Program Panel, University of Oregon School of Law, Eugene, Oregon (February 26, 2020).
“The Role of Law and Policy in Interdisciplinary Research,” Keynote, Oregon Climate Change Research Institute’s 10th Anniversary Symposium, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon (May 20, 2019).
Participant, “Interdisciplinary Social-Environmental Research Symposium,” University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon (May 20, 2019).
“The Food Energy Water Nexus in Oregon State Law,” Keynote, Environmental Caucus of the Oregon State Legislature, Salem, Oregon (May 13, 2019).
Guest Lecture in Environmental Justice Law course, University of Oregon School of Law, Eugene, Oregon (April 10, 2019).
“Drought in the American West: A Look at the Interrelationship Between Law, Policy, and Science,” Keynote, Environmental Studies Spring Knight Distinguished Lecture Series, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri (March 27, 2019).
“Maximizing Instream Flows Via Oregon Water Law,” Poster presentation with Doug Quirke, INFEWS Stakeholder Meeting, Salem, Oregon (November 13, 2018).
“Enforcing Sustained Yield Requirement in Land Management Laws to Provide for Future Generations,” Invited Speaker, Keeping the Public in Public Lands: Exploring New Litigation Theories, sponsored by the NorthLight Foundation, Telluride, Colorado (invited presentation) (October 10, 2018).
“The Food We Eat:  The Connections Between Water and Ag Law and Policy,” Keynote, UO Law Good Food Group and Museum of Natural and Cultural History, Eugene, Oregon (April 23, 2018).
“Negotiating Water Conflicts: A Comparative Perspective,” Panel presentation with William Jarvis, OSU, and Celia Zapparolli, Mediator, Eugene, Oregon (April 19, 2018).
“Flexible Responses in Water Law and Policy,” Water Resources Graduate Program Seminar Series: Economics of Water, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, (November 15, 2017).
“Willamette Basin Integrated Modeling – Willamette Water 2100 Effort,” AWRA Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon, (November 5-9, 2017).
“The Importance of State Water Law in Federal Takings Claims”, ENR Works in Progress Conference, Portland, Oregon (October 27, 2017).
“Fundamentals of Land and Water Law Workshop,” National Young Farmers Coalition, Springfield, OR (September 18, 2017).
“Redrawing our Urban Waters,” APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Conference: U.S. Pacific Northwest in Pacific Rim Perspective, Workshop co-led with Brook Muller, Portland, Oregon (September 15-17, 2017) materials available at:….
“Law & Water Modeling,” Law Lab presentation with Professor Bill Jaeger, UO School of Law, Eugene, Oregon (April 18, 2017).

Honors and Awards

  • Clayton R. Hess Professor of Law, August 2015
  • James O. and Alfred T. Goodwin Senior Faculty Fellow, August 2014
  • Dean’s Distinguished Faculty Fellow, August 2013
  • UO Faculty Fund for Excellence Award, June 2013
  • Graduate Faculty Appointment, Oregon State University – Water Resources Policy and Management
  • Ninth Circuit Representative for the District of Oregon, 2013-2016 (appointed by the judges of the federal District Court in Oregon)
  • Vice Chair, Public Land and Resources Committee, American Bar Association, Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources, 2012-13 (appointed)
  • Wayne Morse Center Resident Scholar, 2009-2010
  • Orlando J. Hollis Teaching Award, 2009
  • Dean's Fund Summer Research Award, 2006-2009
  • Adjunct Appointment at Oregon State University, 2006