Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In Memorium: David Getches

The environmental law community is mourning the passing of former Colorado Law dean David Getches. While I never had the pleasure of meeting Dean Getches, it is evident he was deeply loved and respected, as well as very accomplished.  From his faculty bio:

David Getches is the Raphael J. Moses Professor of Natural Resources Law at the University of Colorado School of Law.  He teaches and writes on water law, public land law, environmental law, and Indian law.  Professor Getches has published several books including:  Water Law in a Nutshell (1997); Searching Out the Headwaters: Change and Rediscovery in Western Water Law and Policy, with Bates, MacDonnell and Wilkinson (1993); Controlling Water Use:  The Unfinished Business of Water Quality Control, with MacDonnell and Rice (1991); Water Resource Management, with Tarlock and Corbridge (1993); and Federal Indian Law, with Wilkinson and Williams (1998).  He has written many articles and book chapters that appear in diverse scholarly and popular sources, including recent articles calling for reform of Colorado River governance and criticizing the Supreme Court’s departure from traditional principles in Indian law.

 From 1983-1987, David Getches was Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources under Governor Richard D. Lamm.  The department includes ten divisions of state government that deal with parks, wildlife, land, water, and minerals.  While in that post he strongly advocated water conservation, pressed for groundwater law reform, advanced ideas for better cooperative management and control of the Colorado River, urged expansion of the state’s designated wilderness areas, and spoke out on the importance of recreation and wildlife to the state’s economy.

 Mr. Getches was the founding Executive Director of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF).  He developed the staff, funding, and program of this national, nonprofit Indian-interest law firm.  Major cases he litigated include a Northwest Indian fishing rights case (United States v. Washington, also known as “the Boldt decision”) and a case on behalf of Eskimos to establish the North Slope Borough, the largest municipality in the world, which includes the Prudhoe Bay oil fields.  His other cases dealt with water rights, land claims, federal trust responsibilities, environmental issues, education, and civil rights on behalf of Native American clients throughout the West.

His obit also appears in the Huffington Post.

He obviously will be deeply missed.

Jamie Baker Roskie

 

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