Attorneys in the Natural Resources and Environment Section work with their clients to protect and improve the quality of Colorado’s land, air, water, and wildlife.
Attorneys in the section work in 8 units representing various clients primarily in the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) as well as several independent boards or agencies including the Colorado Natural Resources Trustees and the Colorado Energy Office.
Land is one of Colorado’s most precious resources. Attorneys in the section work with clients to preserve and maximize benefits from State lands dedicated State schools. We help clients to protect, manage, and preserve the many State Parks and Wilderness Areas and all the lands that the Division of Parks and Wildlife operate.
Protecting Colorado’s lands also means working to assure Colorado citizens that their health, safety, and environment are a priority when materials are taken from or placed upon the ground. Attorneys in the section work to keep the Colorado’s lands safe through every phase of oil, gas, and mineral development. We also advise clients and prosecute violations related to hazardous waste, solid waste, and radiation. Attorneys in the section help clients reach voluntary clean up settlements and Brownfields cleanup settlements and litigate mandatory clean ups. Attorneys help promote effective and efficient energy production and consumption with the Colorado Energy Office.
Life-giving air serves every living being in Colorado. Attorneys in the section work with the Air Quality Control Commission and the Air Pollution Control Division to protect our air. Attorneys help these clients in rulemakings to set safe standards, improve air quality, and prosecute violators.
The limited natural resource of water in Colorado touches the lives of every Coloradoan. Colorado’s water extend well beyond our borders as the headwaters for four major river systems: the Platte, Arkansas, Rio Grande, and Colorado. These rivers are the lifeblood for our population, economy, environment, and way of life from Colorado’s iconic mountains to vast plains. These four river systems provide water to tens of millions of people in 19 states and Mexico. Attorneys in the section have the privilege of helping clients administer water rights, acquire water rights, preserve Colorado’s lakes and rivers, and honor the division of water between Colorado and its downstream neighbors, and keep Colorado’s water clean.
Attorneys in the section help clients interpret decrees of the seven Water Courts so that the Division of Water Resources can properly administer water rights. Attorneys help achieve administrable decrees in Water Court, prosecute unlawful uses of water, and advise clients in administrative control of ground water.
Acquire and Preserve Water
Attorneys in the section help agencies throughout the state acquire and protect the water rights they need to serve their missions. Attorneys also represent the Colorado Water Conservation Board to adjudicate appropriations of water to preserve and improve the natural environment in Colorado’s streams and natural lakes.
Colorado is party to 9 interstate compacts, 2 United States Supreme Court equitable apportionment decrees, and 2 memoranda of understanding that control the division of water between Colorado, its 19 downstream neighbor states, and Mexico. Attorneys work with the parties to these compacts, decrees, and agreements to resolve disputes, address drought contingencies, and negotiate conflicts to address the problems that arise when people need more water than the earth provides.
Attorneys in the section also work with clients to ensure that Colorado’s water are clean and safe to use. Attorneys work with the Water Quality Control Commission to set standards for clean water in Colorado that keep the citizens safe. Attorneys also work with Water Quality Control Division to enforce those standards, develop programs to improve water quality issues, and prosecute violators.
Coloradoans value every aspect of the unique environment in which we live, including it fish, wildlife, and plant life. Attorneys in the section work to defend Colorado’s ability to choose the manner in which we protect threatened and endangered species and help DNR work with the federal government to enforce the Endangered Species Act. Attorneys also advise the Division of Parks and Wildlife in managing hunting and fishing programs. Attorneys also protect Colorado’s fish and wildlife by prosecuting unlawful takings, including fish kills, and helping secure the water rights necessary to develop hatcheries.