Two Oregon Law Environmental Fellows Present Innovative Ideas at 2021 Oregon State of the Coast Conference 

Two Oregon Law Fellows, Anne Wolke, and Brenden Catt, recently presented at the State of the Coast conference hosted by Sea Grant. The two shared innovative ideas and research about Oregon’s Coast, and how to preserve its natural beauty. The State of the Coast Conference was held this year on October 28 and 29. The Conference’s goal is to provide information on the state of the marine environment as well as provide networking opportunities for speakers.  

Anne Wolke, 3L Bowerman Fellow, originally from eastern Oregon. Wolke research involves international climate law and policy, cultural rights, water law, and the impacts of climate change on natural and cultural resources. During the Summer of 2021 she was a legal intern at Tualatin Riverkeepers and an archaeologist at Black Dog Archaeology.  

Wolke’s Presentation focused on the importance of indigenous land titled: “Coastal Cultural Resources in the Age of Climate Change: Strengthening the Legal Framework for Historic Preservation.” Her primary goal of the presentation was to encourage the strengthening of laws that affirm tribal sovereignty. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples already outlines the need for states to obtain consent from indigenous peoples before disrupting 

territories and resources of indigenous land. She reported that cultural resources for indigenous land intersect with many aspects of the environment. This includes coastal archeological sites, submerged sites, traditional cultural properties, sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and other cultural significant aspects of the land. Her full presentation can be viewed here

Brenden Catt is a 3L Bowerman Fellow. As an undergraduate, he was a research assistant at Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW). At ELAW, he researched mangrove deforestation in Southeast Asia and microplastics in the aquatic ecosystems. Brenden was a law clerk for Umpqua Valley Public Defender. Currently, in addition to being an Oceans, Coasts, and Watersheds Project Fellow, Brenden is a managing editor for the Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation and a volunteer for the Oregon Law Center.  

Catt’s Presentation focused on nonpoint water pollution and outlines the need for a program that targets its effect. This is titled: “How a Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program Could Influence Forestry Practices that Threaten Oregon’s Coastal Water Resources.” The Clean Water Act fails to regulate nonpoint pollution, and Oregon could regulate this type of pollution under the Coastal Zone Management Act. Failure to approve such a program has caused a 30% reduction in federal funding for coastal management. This is because in the past the program proposal has not included measures for forestry practice. Protecting timber harvest reducing pollution was one area Catt provided potential solutions to. Maine and Washington currently run programs that allow harvest if it does not risk life or property. Catt’s idea would help effectively hinder nonpoint pollution while protecting the timber industry. His full presentation can be viewed here.