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Professor Reed Benson

Reed Benson

Don L. & Mabel F. Dickason Endowed Chair in Law
B.S. Iowa State University
J.D. University of Michigan
Member of Colorado Bar
(inactive status)


Contact Information

 Ph.: 505-277-1119
 Fax: 505-277-1597
 Office: 3237


Reed Benson joined the UNM law faculty in July 2008, contributing a broad background in environmental work, including five years as executive director of WaterWatch of Oregon. In addition to teaching natural resources classes, he serves as Faculty Editor-in-Chief of the Natural Resources Journal.

Prior to coming to UNM, he spent six years on the faculty of the University of Wyoming College of Law, where he taught courses in environmental law, legislation, water law and administrative law, and served as faculty adviser to the Wyoming Law Review. He previously worked as a staff attorney for the Land and Water Fund of the Rockies, an attorney for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and an associate for the Colorado law firm of Hutchinson, Black & Cook.

Benson's writing focuses on water law and environmental issues facing the West. His most recent publications examine such topics as the application of the Endangered Species Act to federal water projects, the efforts of western cities to ensure adequate water supplies for recreation, and the scope of federal deference to state laws governing water allocation and management. He is co-author on the 7th edition of the Water Resource Management casebook published by Foundation Press.



Water Resource Management, (with Dan Tarlock, Jim Corbridge, David Getches and Sarah Bates), (7th ed. Foundation Press 2014).


Environmental Issues in the Allocation and Management of Western Interstate RiversIndiana International & Comparative Law Review, Forthcoming.
Available at: SSRN

Avoiding Jeopardy, Without the Questions: Recovery Implementation Plans for Endangered Species in Western River Basins, 2 Michigan Journal of Environmental and Administrative Law 473 (2013).
Available at SSRN

Federal Water Law and the 'Double Whammy': How the Bureau of Reclamation can Help the West Adapt to Drought and Climate Change, 39 Ecology Law Quarterly 1049 (2012).
Available at: SSRN

Public Funding Programs for Environmental Water Acquisitions: Origins, Purposes, and Revenue Sources, 42 Envtl. L. Rev. 265 (2012).
Available at: SSRN

Alive but Irrelevant: The Prior Appropriation Doctrine in Today’s Western Water Law, 83 U. Colo. L. Rev. 675 (2012).
Available at: SSRN

Environmental Review of Western Water Project Operations: Where NEPA has not Applied, Will it now Protect Farmers from Fish?, 29 UCLA  J. of Envtl. L. & Pol'y 269 (2011).
 Available at: SSRN

Public on Paper: The Failure of Law to Protect Public Water Uses in the Western United States (January 12, 2012). Journal of Rural Law and Policy, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2011.
Available at SSRN

New Adventures of the Old Bureau: Modern-Day Reclamation Statutes and Congress’ Unfinished Environmental Business, 48 HARV. J. ON LEGIS. 137 (2011).
Available at: SSRN

Dams, Duties, and Discretion: Bureau of Reclamation Water Project Operations and the Endangered Species Act, forthcoming in 33 Columbia Journal of Environmental Law 1 (2008).

Rivers to Live By: Can Western Water Law Help Communities Embrace Their Streams?27 J. Land Resources & Envtl. L. 1 (2007).
Available at: SSRN

Deflating the Deference Myth: National Interests vs. State Authority under Federal Laws Affecting Water Use, 2006 Utah L. Rev. 241 (2006).
Available at: SSRN

'The Supreme Court of Science' Speaks on Water Rights: The National Academy of Sciences Columbia River Report and its Water Policy Implications, 35 Envtl L. 85 (2005).
Available at: SSRN

Pollution Without Solution: Flow Impairment Problems Under Clean Water Act Section 303, 24 Stan. Envtl. L.J. 199 (2005).
Available at: SSRN

So Much Conflict, Yet So Much in Common: Considering the similarities between western water law and the Endangered Species Act, 44 Natural Resources Journal 29 (2004).

Giving Suckers (and Salmon) an Even Break: Klamath Basin water and the Endangered Species Act, 15 Tulane Environmental Law Journal 197 (2002).

Can’t Get No Satisfaction: Securing water for federal and tribal lands in the West, 30 Environmental Law Reporter 11056 (2000).

Maintaining the Status Quo: Protecting established water uses in the Pacific Northwest, despite the rules of prior appropriation, 28 Environmental Law 881 (1998), reprinted in 37 Public Land and Resources Law Digest 69 (2000).

Whose Water Is It? Private rights and public authority over reclamation project water, 16 Virginia Environmental Law Journal 363 (1997).

A Watershed Issue: The role of streamflow protection in Northwest river basin management, 26 Environmental Law 175 (1996).


  • Don L. & Mabel F. Dickason Endowed Chair in Law
  • Keleher & McLeod Professor