Each year during spring break, professor Hillary Hoffmann leads a trip to visit public lands in Utah. Students spend a week diving into the federal laws governing public lands. They learn about statutes such as the National Park Service Organic Act, the Antiquities Act, the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act, and significant tribal treaty rights and other legally protected tribal interests in federal lands. They learn how to apply relevant legal principles to public lands and tribal rights during field workshops.
Classes include hikes in Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and the Bears Ears National Monument, while guest lectures from attorneys, grassroots advocates, and tribal representatives illuminate the issues. “Teaching students about the adverse impacts of oil and gas leasing in the classroom is not nearly as informative as discussing the same material while standing next to a well pad, listening to the incessant droning of the rig equipment and watching the giant tractor-trailer trucks fill up their tanks," said professor Hoffmann. "Taking students to an active oil well also helps them see exactly what can happen to fragile desert soils, critical habitat for endangered species like desert tortoises, and ancestral Puebloan burial grounds and archaeological sites, if Congress or the President removes their legal protections.”