Letting Nature Work in the Pacific Northwest: A Manual for Protecting Ecosystem Services Under Existing Law

Center for Progressive Reform White Paper No. 1304

44 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2013

See all articles by Robert W. Adler

Robert W. Adler

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Robert L. Glicksman

George Washington University - Law School

Dan Rohlf

Lewis & Clark Law School

Robert R. M. Verchick

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Ling-Yee Huang

Independent

Date Written: April 17, 2013

Abstract

In the decades since Congress and state legislatures passed most of the nation's most significant environmental laws, our knowledge about ecosystems has increased dramatically. As ecologists learn more about the complex and dynamic interactions that produce valuable ecosystem services, decisionmakers and advocates should adopt an ecosystem services approach to implementing laws that affect the environment.

An ecosystem services approach integrates advances in ecology with the law. It fosters creative thinking about how to restructure laws and regulatory programs to mimic the connectedness of ecosystem functions. The approach requires performance-based evaluations to measure success or failure of management decisions, and it depends on public participation to prioritize those services that the public values most, thus ensuring long-term public support for and investment in achieving the identified goals.

This white paper defines the approach and identifies both prerequisites and principles for implementing it. For example, policymakers and advocates should consider principles of ecological integrity, fairness, and resilience when selecting legal tools to protect ecosystem services. The paper then applies the ecosystem services approach in the context of floodplain restoration, focusing on flood hazard mitigation and the broad range of services provided by floodplains. It marks the beginning of a long-term discussion on how to adapt environmental, natural resources, and other laws to our dependence on functioning, dynamic ecosystems.

Keywords: ecosystem services, adaptive management, flooding, floodplains, Clean Water Act, biological criteria, ecological integrity, water quality standards, designated uses, public trust doctrine, takings, Fifth Amendment, National Flood Insurance Program

Suggested Citation

Adler, Robert W. and Glicksman, Robert L. and Rohlf, Dan and Verchick, Robert R. M. and Huang, Ling-Yee, Letting Nature Work in the Pacific Northwest: A Manual for Protecting Ecosystem Services Under Existing Law (April 17, 2013). Center for Progressive Reform White Paper No. 1304. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2252842

Robert W. Adler

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

332 S. 1400 East Room 101
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States

Robert L. Glicksman

George Washington University - Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States
202-994-4641 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.gwu.edu/Faculty/profile.aspx?id=16085

Dan Rohlf

Lewis & Clark Law School ( email )

10015 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219
United States

Robert R. M. Verchick

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law ( email )

7214 St. Charles Ave., Box 901
Campus Box 901
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

Ling-Yee Huang (Contact Author)

Independent

No Address Available

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