Land and Water

Within Environmental Studies, science courses and graduate projects emphasize conservation biology and the conservation, preservation and restoration of land and water ecosystems. Students may work with the UM Watershed Health Clinic, science faculty across campus, government agencies or community groups on conservation plans and projects.  Policy, ethics, and conflict resolution classes that are also useful in Land and Water conservation are also described here.

Courses Offered

3 credits

Offered autumn

Instructor: Len Broberg

The class is designed to introduce students without a science background to the approach, methodology, and concerns of scientists and scientific institutions. Students are paired with an environmental organization or nonprofit, and will apply their research and methodology to a timely campaign. Ultimately the purpose of the class is to equip students with enough familiarity with science to interpret basic scientific materials, gather scientific information, and effectively incorporate scientific information in an environmental campaign.

3 credits

Offered autumn

Instructor: Vicki Watson

This class integrates watershed science, policy, planning and action, and organizing. The science component explores watershed connections, evaluating change, and assessing watershed condition. The policy component explains the scientific basis of national, state and local laws, programs and agencies that affect watersheds. The planning and action component discusses developing watershed conservation plans and selecting actions likely to address problems without creating other problems. The organizing component covers how to help watershed communities make choices, find funding, resolve conflicts and build commitment for watershed conservation.  Students work individually or in teams to assist Montana groups in developing watershed CPR plans, initiating monitoring projects, and/or conducting education projects.

3 credits

Offered intermittently in the fall

Instructor: Len Broberg

This course provides students with transboundary planning, policy and ecology experience. The course will review the political systems and administrative systems of the U.S. and Canada relevant to natural resource policy decision-making as well as the ecological systems in which they occur.  Students will work on a group project oriented to an issue spanning the Canada-United States border. Students will participate in a nine-day trip traversing the Rocky Mountains from Polebridge, Montana, to Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, and will have the opportunity to meet and interact with stakeholders in the issue, review pertinent literature and work as a group to produce an integrated report for use by decision-makers and citizens on both sides of the border.

3 credits

Offered spring on even-numbered years (prerequisite: a college ecology course)

Instructor: Vicki Watson

This course examines the sources and effects of pollutants on organisms and ecosystems; methods of measuring and predicting pollutant fate and effects, assessing and reducing risks, estimating ecosystem assimilation capacity; setting standards and restoring ecosystems damaged by pollution. The course briefly examines relevant laws and policies at the federal, state and local level.

1-3 credits

Offered intermittently (Prerequisite/co-requisite: ENSC 540, 550, or 560)

Instructor: Vicki Watson

This course is focused on designing, executing and interpreting environmental field studies. The class is oriented to studies of aquatic systems and watersheds. Students will assist with a class project and may also pursue their own project. Projects focus on the Clark Fork, Bitterroot, and Blackfoot River basins.

3 credits

Offered spring in odd-numbered years

Instructor: Vicki Watson

This course covers the legal and scientific aspects of environmental impact analysis (EIA), including an overview of the requirements of international, national, and state laws and regulations; effective organizing for interdisciplinary team research efforts and public processes; production of an effective EIA document and implementation of a meaningful and open decision process; scientific tools used in EIA; and critiquing some example EIAs.

3 credits

Offered spring

Instructor: Michelle Bryan Mudd

An overview of the law of land use planning, this course examines traditional governmental regulatory land use tools (planning zoning, subdivision regulation), traditional governmental proprietary land use tools (infrastructure, transit, publicly owned facilities) and traditional government fiscal tools (differential tax assessments, special assessments, tax increment financing.) The course also examines modern techniques for land use planning including private techniques (conservation easements, land trusts, covenants) and government techniques (performance zoning, transfer of development rights, regional authorities). The course also considers constitutional limitations on the authority of state and local governments to regulate private land use. The course focuses on the skills of interpreting, drafting and applying state legislation and local ordinances.

1-6 credits

Offered fall and spring (prerequisite or co-requisite ENST 561 or GPHY 561)

Instructor: Michelle Bryan Mudd

The Land Use Clinic is staffed by law students, graduate students in Environmental Studies, and students in land use planning in the Geography Department. Students work with city, town and county attorneys, local planning personnel and citizen boards, assisting them in long-range planning efforts and development of growth management plans, ordinance drafting and other land use issues. Students will travel periodically to the communities for which they are working to meet with local officials and to attend public hearings.

3 credits

Instructor: Michelle Bryan Mudd

This course examines the historical events, customs and policies that led to our current regulations governing the use and allocation of water. The course also examines modern-day water regulations and water-related issues—from water marketing, to in-stream flow, to tribal water rights and climate change. The course compares the differences between water law in the eastern and western United States, and focusing on the Rocky Mountain West. Students will study the specific water laws of Montana, and will practice some of the primary skills needed to be a water lawyer, including researching and analyzing water rights, handling water rights in a real estate transaction, and appearing before the Montana Water Court in adjudication proceedings.

3 credits

Offered autumn

Instructor: Dan Spencer

In collaboration with the Clark Fork Coalition and other organizations carrying out restoration projects in the Clark Fork River basin and western Montana, this class examines many ethical and philosophical restoration issues while developing and carrying out restoration plans in the Upper Clark Fork River Watershed. Specifically, the class studies the restoration work of the Watershed Restoration Coalition in the Deer Lodge valley, and the restoration of the Clark Fork Coalition's Dry Cottonwood ranch near Deer Lodge. A central theme in this class is integrating the restoration of ecosystems with the restoration of human communities to create sustainable bioregions and landscapes. Students will develop a "restoration ethic" as a philosophical and moral grounding for this work.

3 credits

Offered every semester (prerequisite ENST 513 or consent of instructor)

Instructor: Matt McKinney

This course is the capstone experience of the Natural Resources Conflict Resolution Program. The course provides practical experience in multi-party collaboration and conflict resolution. Students may design their own project in consultation with the director of the NRCR Program, or participate in a project organized and convened by faculty. Projects may be conducted year-round. The practicum is repeatable.

Faculty