Policy Practicum: Central Valley Habitat Exchange


Course Code:
LAW 414A
Law Honors/Pass/Restrd Cr/Fail


This policy lab will assist in developing more flexible and effective wildlife habitat mitigation tools for use in California's Central Valley, a landscape that presents the challenge of taking advantage of the habitat potential provided by working agricultural lands. Habitat mitigation is an important tool under a variety of environmental and wildlife protection statutes, both state and federal. Current regulatory frameworks usually require that habitat mitigation employ permanent easements or long-term contracts fixed in particular locations, despite the fact that species have changing habitat needs. Many species are migratory and must move across the landscape to survive; a changing climate and shifting human activity only increase the dynamic nature of habitat needs. To ensure that species and their habitat are protected in the most effective manner possible, legal and policy frameworks must be structured to address this and other challenges. Additionally, there is a need for a robust market mechanism that recognizes the inherent natural capital and species habitat provided by working agricultural lands, and compensates landowners for the value of those resources. In the face of significant upcoming conservation and mitigation needs for California, new policies and regulatory frameworks are necessary, and must be rooted in rigorous science, be consistent with existing legal frameworks, and accomplish the dual goals of promoting species recovery and maintaining agricultural production. Students in the Law and Policy Lab will analyze cutting edge issues related to species habitat and protection. They will help provide recommendations to the Central Valley Habitat Exchange (CVHE) in the development of more flexible and marketable habitat mitigation tools that can be used under a variety of programs, including the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, state wildlife laws, and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. The CVHE is a new initiative taking advantage of the emerging market of habitat credits by maximize the benefits of the habitat that willing agricultural landowners can provide. The CVHE will facilitate investment in conservation and restoration of vital and dynamic Central Valley floodplain and riparian habitat by promoting, monitoring and assisting in the exchange of habitat credits. Students will tackle issues of permanence and change from legal, policy, economic, and scientific perspectives, depending on their existing skill set and research needs. During the quarter, visitors from the CVHE Working Group – which includes members from national environmental non-profits, government agencies, and the private sector – will share their perspectives, and students will be invited to present their findings and make recommendations to help inform development of the CVHE. The course will meet at a mutually convenient time that will be chosen after the quarter begins. Meetings will include a mix of individual meetings and group meetings. Special Instructions: This practicum is offered in autumn quarter and winter quarter. Students enrolled in autumn quarter who intend to continue with the practicum will be given preference in winter quarter. NOTE: Students may not count more than a combined total of eight units of directed research projects and policy lab practica toward graduation unless the additional counted units are approved in advance by the Petitions Committee. Such approval will be granted only for good cause shown. Even in the case of a successful petition for additional units, a student cannot receive a letter grade for more than eight units of independent research (Policy Lab practicum, Directed Research, Senior Thesis, and/or Research Track). Any units taken in excess of eight will be graded on a mandatory pass basis. For detailed information, see "Directed Research/Policy Labs" in the SLS Student Handbook. CONSENT APPLICATION: To apply for this course, students must complete and e-mail the Consent Application Form available on the SLS Registrar's Office website (see Registration and Selection of Classes for Stanford Law Students) to the instructors. See Consent Application Form for contact information and submission deadline. Elements used in grading: As agreed to by instructor.

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