The Columbia River Gorge and the Development of American Natural Resources Law: A Century of Significance

New York University Environmental Law Review, Vol. 20

Lewis & Clark Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-20

34 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2011 Last revised: 18 Mar 2013

Michael C. Blumm

Lewis & Clark Law School

Date Written: February 12, 2013

Abstract

The Columbia River Gorge, site of the nation’s first national scenic area and the only near sea level passage through the Cascade Mountains, possesses the longest continuously occupied site of human habitation in North America. The Gorge has served as a major transportation corridor between the Pacific and the Great Basin for hundreds of years, is home to spectacular scenery, dozens of waterfalls, many sacred sites, and abundant recreational activities, including world-class kite boarding and wind surfing. The Gorge has also been the location of over a century of legal battles that have made major contributions to American natural resources law. From judicial interpretations of 19th Indian treaties, to the development of the largest interconnected hydroelectric system in the world, to ensuing declines in what were once the world’s largest salmon runs – ultimately resulting in endangered species listings – to innovative federal statutes concerning electric power planning and conservation and land use federalism, to compensation schemes for landowners burdened with regulation, to dam removal and conflicts between sea lions and salmon, the Gorge has spawned a legal history as rich as its geography. This article surveys these developments and suggests that no area of the country has produced more varied and significant contributions to natural resources law.

Keywords: Natural Resources Law, Environmental Law, Land Use Law, Takings Law, Indian Law, Renewable Energy Law, Endangered Species Law, Dam Removal Law, Marine Mammals Law, Legal History

JEL Classification: H53, H77, H82, K11, K23, K32, N51, N52, Q22, Q24, Q25, Q28, Q42, Q48

Suggested Citation

Blumm, Michael C., The Columbia River Gorge and the Development of American Natural Resources Law: A Century of Significance (February 12, 2013). New York University Environmental Law Review, Vol. 20; Lewis & Clark Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1881169

Michael C. Blumm (Contact Author)

Lewis & Clark Law School ( email )

10015 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219
United States
503-768-6824 (Phone)
503-768-6701 (Fax)

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