Using a hands-on approach, the field seminar Public Lands Management takes place during summer each year in Montana. Students travel to Missoula, home to the headquarters of the Northern Region of the National Forest System, the Lolo National Forest, and the University of Montana School of Forestry. There, they spend two weeks immersed in the realities of public land management while hiking into the wilderness, exploring a roadless area whose management fate is undecided, and visit restoration logging sites, among other experiential education opportunities. They don't just read endless NEPA cases about the logging debate; rather, they discuss forest management sitting amid a 600-acre clearcut, pondering hundreds of square miles of Forest Service lands, a visual patchwork of old harvests, vigorous newly regenerated stands, burned areas, a web-like network of roads, and vast swaths of potential new wilderness areas.
The course explores themes of resource utilization versus preservation, the changing legal framework for public land management, current controversies over salvage logging, motorized vehicle use, conflicts between wildlife management and recreationists, ecosystem restoration, the role of fire on public lands, and the impacts of climate change.