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ELS and Environs Symposium - Changing Ocean Conditions and Emerging Legal Challenges Along the California Coastline

Friday March 11, 2016

Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom, King Hall room 1001
8:30 AM – 5:30 PM

Inundated coastlines. Acidifying oceans. Shifting fish populations. Communities increasingly at risk. The ocean and coastal environment is rapidly changing—and so too are management, legal, and policy concerns. The 2016 UC Davis Environmental Law Symposium will explore timely, critical issues of California’s coastline, rivers, and near-shore ocean environment by bringing together legal and policy authorities from government agencies, tribal sovereignties, science and academia, nonprofit organizations, private practice, and individual communities. The day-long event will feature panels addressing adaptation strategies and legal challenges arising from rising sea levels along the California coastline, challenges and solutions in managing marine and anadromous fisheries, legal opportunities to address localized ocean acidification, and the interaction of federal entities, state laws, and tribal sovereigns in managing coastal resources. Breakfast, lunch, and a light reception will be provided.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their own reusable coffee cups and/or water bottles.

Kindly RSVP HERE to attend the symposium

Event Program

Breakfast and Check-In

Keynote Speaker and Opening
"The Role of Law and Science in Environmental Decision Making in California"

Michael Sutton, Board Chair, Ocean Champions; Chair, COMPASS; Summer Faculty, Vermont Law School

Morning Break

Panel 1: Planning for California's Future Coastline

With sea levels projected to rise up to five and a half feet along California by the end of this century, coastal communities are grappling with the physical and legal challenges accompanying coastal erosion and rising tides. This panel will discuss the impact of the public trust doctrine and takings law on properties facing shifting coastlines. It will also delve into the legal (permitting, enforcement) implications of the 2015 California Coastal Commission's Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance document, such as are playing out in Lynch v. Cal. Coastal Comm'n. The panelists will also discuss legal, scientific, and economic considerations coastal management authorities are considering in their planning efforts in order to be compliant with the Coastal Act and meet shifting conditions at the coast.

  • Megan Herzog, Emmett/Frankel Fellow in Environmental Law and Policy, UCLA School of Law
  • Kelsey Ducklow, Climate Change Analyst, California Coastal Commission
  • Sarah Newkirk, Attorney and Coastal Program Director, The Nature Conservancy
  • Dr. Phil King, Economics Department, San Francisco State University
  • Moderator: Victoria Bogdan Tejeda, UC Davis School of Law (‘17)

Morning Break

Panel 2: Adaptive Management for Marine and Anadromous Fish

Marine and anadromous fish (such as salmon) are facing pressures from overfishing, climate change, and out-of-date management strategies. This panel will discuss revisions to California's Marine Life Management Act, implications of the Endangered Species Act in fisheries management, and approaches to ecosystem-based management throughout the state.

  • Joe Milton, Senior Counsel for the CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
  • Nate Mantua, Landscaping Ecology Leader, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Steve Mashuda, Managing Attorney, Earthjustice
  • Moderator: Michael Weber, Resources Legacy Fund


Panel 3: Managing Water Quality for an Acidifying Ocean

With increasing acidity of the ocean resulting from the ocean absorbing increased carbon from the atmosphere, ocean acidification has rapidly emerged as a significant problem for individual organisms, coastal ecosystems, and the human communities that rely on these resources. This panel will discuss the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel's recent findings concerning local and regional opportunities and solutions to address ocean acidification and hypoxic events, legal opportunities to improve state water quality criteria under section 303 of the Clean Water Act, the implications of the 2015 United States District Court decision Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. EPA on pH monitoring requirements, and the current monitoring practices and capabilities to address this difficult water quality issue.

  • Dr. John Largier, UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory; West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science panel
  • Jennifer Phillips, Program Manager, California Ocean Protection Council
  • Emily Jeffers, Staff Attorney, Center for Biological Diversity
  • Aric Bickel, Program Manager, Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS)
  • Moderator: Kaitlyn Kalua, UC Davis School of Law (‘16)  

Afternoon Break

Panel 4: The Role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Coastal Management Decisions

Ocean and coastal resources are not confined to a single jurisdiction, causing complexity in the various levels of governance and authority to manage activities and resources along the California coastline. Traditional ecological knowledge has the potential to play a central role in integrating multiple perspectives in cross-jurisdictional resource management and informing coastal resource decisions throughout California. This panel will explore the value and challenges in incorporating traditional ecological knowledge in environmental management decisions by looking at two specific case studies from the Yurok Tribe and Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation, their involvement in California’s Marine Protected Areas, the West Coast Regional Planning Body, and how tribal consultation requirements under California statutes AB 52 and SB 18 can play a critical role in coastal management decisions.

  • Briannon Fraley, Self-Governance Director, Tolowa Dee-ni'
  • Cheyenne Sanders, Associate General Counsel, Yurok Tribe
  • John Hansen, West Coast Regional Planning Body Coordinator
  • Darcie Houck, Partner, Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
  • Moderator: Dr. Beth Rose Middleton, UC Davis Department of Native American Studies, Yocha Dehe Endowed Chair in California Indian Studies

Closing Remarks




Presented by the Environmental Law Society, Environs: Environmental Law & Policy Journal at UC Davis School of Law, UC Davis Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute, and California Environmental Law & Policy Center

Co-Sponsored by Sacramento County State Bar Environmental Law Section, and Somach Simmons & Dunn

For more information, please contact Victoria Bogdan Tejeda at