Environmental Issues of the American West

One of the themes for YCELP is a focus on the American West. With federally managed public lands occupying at least a third of the land base in western states, the region is home to a unique set of policy challenges. Our policy interests include oil and gas development on public lands, habitat protection for endangered species, mining, wildfire, ranching, and recreation. Regularly scheduled reading groups and prominent visiting speakers provide opportunities for FES students to engage these topics.

Western Environmental Issues Reading Group

This reading group is dedicated to an exploration of environmental policy challenges in the American West. The group is focused on current policy issues, and while we may consider theoretical perspectives on some topics, we are grounded in policy application. Many of the most complex policy dilemmas raise questions of federalism and involve some tussle between federal agencies and state control; we will explore these political themes throughout. Our reading material aligns with this applied policy focus, and we study news articles, websites, and policy statements. Occasionally we will look at academic articles, but they will not form the bulk of our reading list.

Climate Change Synthesis Project

In partnership with the Council of Western State Foresters, YCELP researchers are working to identify actions underway by western states that contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation. The synthesis report will include detailed case studies that highlight the critical role played by forestry in climate action, especially in the arid West and the more remote Pacific Island territories with membership in the Council. Analysis of patterns and success stories will help to amplify climate-smart forestry.

To learn more about YCELP’s work on western environmental issues, contact Lisa Dale at lisa.dale@yale.edu. For more information on projects in this area, visit the Yale American West Initiative.