Public Interest Law Conference (March 1st-3rd)

The PIELC logo featuring a water can and variety of produce - Text: Join us March 1-3, 2024

Join us at the 2024 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference.

Download the full PIELC schedule 

For the past 42 years, over 5,000 concerned people from across the globe have come together in Eugene for the oldest and largest public interest environmental law conference in the world. Land Air Water, a wholly volunteer student group at the University of Oregon School of Law, hosts the event. The Conference attracts activists, advocates, attorneys, scientists, government officials, and concerned citizens together to share information and strategies that will more effectively further the goals of environmental and social justice. It puts ideas into action, sparks renewed commitment to the protection of the environment across borders and has inspired the creation of public interest environmental and human rights organizations.

From March 1st to 3rd, Oregon Wild and our friends have organized a number of panels on our work to protect Oregon’s wildlands, wildlife, and waters. Panels will take place at the University of Oregon School of Law: 1515 Agate Street Eugene, OR 97403. During the conference, you can also find our table in the Law School lobby. Stop by and say hi!

Defending the Northwest Forest Plan for the Next Generation

Friday, March 1st, 9-10:30 a.m.

Law School bldg Room 142

The Northwest Forest Plan has protected habitat for spotted owls, salmon, and countless other species for nearly 30 years. The Forest Service has proposed amending the Plan and convened an advisory committee to develop recommendations to that end. The agency also recently issued a scoping notice hinting at the changes it would like to see: a loosening of restrictions to allow more logging in more areas. This panel, which includes two advisory committee members, will discuss how the Northwest Forest Plan came to be, how it has been effective, and how its primary components can continue to protect species and habitat, as well as values such as carbon storage, even in the face of a changing climate.

Panelists: Mike Anderson, The Wilderness Society; Doug Heiken, Oregon Wild; Angela Sondenaa, Nez Perce Tribe; Meredith C. Jacobson, FireGeneration Collaborative

Moderator: John Persell, Oregon Wild

Wolfshop: West Coast Wolf Recovery - Current Legal and Policy Issues

Friday, March 1st 12-2:00 PM

Law School bldg Room 175

The return of wolves to Washington, Oregon, and California highlights opportunities to avoid the conflict and unnecessary killing taking place elsewhere in the country -- and to continue to press for the recovery of more wolves in more suitable but as-yet-unoccupied habitats. Public support for wolf protections and wolf recovery is strong. And public activism on behalf of wolves remains essential to counter attempts by state and federal agencies and commissions to curtail protections, abandon recovery efforts and make it easier to kill wolves. 

Building on previous Wolfshops, experts engaged in policy and legal battles for wolf recovery on the West Coast will discuss recent and upcoming events, litigation and issues affecting wolf conservation and management in the region. 

Panelists: Amaroq Weiss J.D., senior wolf advocate at Center for Biological Diversity; Bethany Cotton J.D., conservation director at Cascadia Wildlands; Danielle Moser, wildlife program manager at Oregon Wild; Claire Loebs Davis J.D., attorney and founding partner at Animal & Earth Advocates, PLLC

Using GIS Mapping for Conservation

Saturday, March 2nd, 9-1030 AM

Erb Memorial Union (EMU) 231

This panel will explore several case studies where mapping has been used to advance conservation goals. Mapping of drinking watersheds and a NASA mapping report of clearcutting across the Oregon Coast Range will be highlighted.

Panelists: Erik Fernandez, Wilderness Program Manager at Oregon Wild; Emily French, formerly of NASA; Madeline Cowen Grassroots and Digital Coordinator at Cascadia Wildlands

Public Lands For All: Blackness Outside

Saturday, March 2nd 9-10:30 AM

Law School bldg Room 141

White Americans have historically dominated conversations, decision-making, and management of public lands in the United States. They also represent the vast majority of public lands visitors (95% and 77% of national forest and national park visitors, respectively). Recognizing the built and systemically maintained chasm wedged between the Black American community and the outdoors, Black Oregonians have banded together in the work of making public lands, conservation, and environmental advocacy more accessible, equitable, and diverse. This panel will highlight the work of three Black Americans who have fought to reshape the politics, governance, and communal fabric of our green spaces to create an Oregon that is truly for all. 


Greg Wolley, Mercy M'fon, Danny Cage, Moderated by JT Flowers of Oregon Wild

Forest Defense is Climate Defense - Grassroots Strategies for Winning Campaigns During the Climate Defense

Saturday, March 2nd 10:45am-12:15pm

Law School bldg Room 175

The largest source of carbon emissions contributing to the climate crisis in Oregon is logging. This panel brings together forest activists from across the Pacific Northwest to profile strategies and tactics used to stop logging sales that would exacerbate the climate crisis. Activists will discuss how for decades, passionate land defenders from all walks of life have used on-the-ground observations, strategic legal challenges, and a diversity of grassroots tactics to build campaigns to halt large, destructive logging proposals. Through the timber sale process, state and federal land management agencies usually undercut the values that forest ecosystems provide to the climate, wildlife and communities. Industry and top-down government appeals to “increase the pace and scale of forest management”, reduces public discourse and ignores how truly complex Pacific Northwest forests are. By making curious excursions into threatened forests, we learn and appreciate forests more than by just sitting behind a computer or looking at a map. We are able to support and strengthen personal connection and relationships to the forest and each other, and build collective power to fight back.

Panelists: Madeline Cowen; Victoria Wingell; Karen Coulter; Jim Oliver; Alex Lovechio

Threats and Solutions to Clean Drinking Water

Saturday, March 2nd 3:30-5:00

Law School bldg Room 141

Logging and agriculture pose numerous threats to clean water for people and fish across Oregon. We'll discuss current efforts to better safeguard water through policy, purchase, and legislation. We will highlight the River Democracy Act, municipal purchase and protection of watersheds, community-building and grassroots organizing, changing state law, and holding agencies accountable.

Panelists: Erik Fernandez, Casey Kulla, Paula Hood, Zaira Sanchez and Kristin Ostrom Anderson, Nancy Webster

30x30 in Oregon: What Will it Take?

Sunday, March 3rd at 9-10:30 AM

Law School bldg Room 184

To meet land conservation targets under an Oregon 30x30 initiative (30% of the state’s lands and waters conserved by 2030), the conservation community will need to accelerate its efforts and advocate for the conservation of millions of acres of public and private land each year. Congressional lawmaking is to be insufficient to attain 30x30 in Oregon, underscoring the urgent need for sweeping executive action. What actually constitutes "conserved" will be examined to ensure that lands are indeed primarily managed for biological diversity, and not extractive uses like livestock grazing and timber harvest.

Panelists: Andy Kerr, The Larch Company; Lauren Anderson, Oregon Wild; Linda Perrine, Independent Environmental Advocate; Adam Bronstein, Western Watersheds Project

Pitch perfect: A panel with journalists on breaking and investigative news

Sunday, March 3rd at 9-10:30 AM

Erb Memorial Union (EMU) 119 Diamond Lake

Environmental communications is much more than just writing a good press release. To get your story out there, you need to be able to craft a compelling and credible pitch explaining why your work is important and what environmental values are at stake. At this panel, reporters from various outlets and perspectives will answer questions about what it takes to get a story, what makes a good pitch, and how to give a good quote. Get a behind-the-scenes look at what makes the media tick so your story gets heard. 

Panelists: Camilla Mortensen, Eugene Weekly; Brian Bull, formerly of KLCC now assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon; Kale Williams, KGW; moderated by Arran Robertson, Communications Manager for Oregon Wild