Emeritus Professor of Law
B.A. 1972, St. John's College, Santa Fe
J.D. 1975, Catholic University of America
Member of the New Mexico Bar
Denise Fort has an extensive background in environmental and natural resources law - about 25 years of practice, politics, reflecting and writing about policies, all animated by a belief that society must turn toward a more sustainable relationship with its environment. She believes that law plays a critical role in establishing the institutions that govern those relationships.
In 1995, she chaired the Western Water Policy Review Advisory Commission, a presidential panel appointed to review the role of the federal government in western water issues. She has also been active in the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences.
Fort began her career as an environmental attorney with New Mexico Public Interest Research Group and Southwest Research and Information Center, then became a special assistant attorney general in the state's Taxation and Revenue Department. When she was 31, she was appointed Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration. She moved on to head the state Environmental Improvement Division.
In 1987, Fort turned her focus to teaching, spending a year as a research associate at UNM's Institute of Public Policy and the UNM School of Law. She then served as executive director of Citizens for a Better Environment and as a consultant for the Natural Heritage Institute, both in California, before returning to New Mexico. In 1991, she became director of the Water Resources Administration Program at UNM and joined the law school faculty at that time.
At the law school, she brings her extensive background experience to the classroom and to work with individual students. She focuses her teaching on environmental law and upper-level seminars on a broad range of natural resources topics.
Dairies in New Mexico: The Environmental Implications of a New Industry. State Bar of New Mexico, Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law Section Newsletter, Summer 2009.
Available at: SSRN
"The Nature of Legal Education and Its Links to Water Management", the Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education, (2008)
"Managed Underground Storage", Southwest Hydrology, (2008)
NOAA, U.S. Climate Change Science Program, Decision-Support Experiments and Evaluations using Seasonal to Inter-annual Forecasts and Observational Data: A Focus on Water Resources (co-author) (2008)
Western Progress, A New Western Water Agenda, with Larry MacDonnell,
The Water Report, New Western Water Agenda (Modified from above) Feb. 15, 2008.
Prospects for Managed Underground Storage of Recoverable Water, National Academies Press (2008) (co-author)
"The Use of Environmental Taxes as a Water Management Strategy, in Critical Issues in Environmental Taxation, International and Comparative Perspectives", Oxford University Press (2007)
Keep Your Money: Let the West Pay for Its Own Water Projects, 27 Pub. Land & Resources L. Rev. 15 (2006).
Available at: SSRN
"The Role of the Federal Government in the 21st Century: Time for a Clearly Defined and Constructive National Role", opinion-editorial; 7 Water Resources Impact 23 (January 2005)
Water: Science, Policy and Management, Rick Lawford, Denise Fort, Holly Hartford, Susanna Eden, eds., American Geophysical Union (2003)
Review Procedures for Water Resources Planning, National Research Council (Committee to Assess the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Methods of Analysis and Peer Review for Water Resources Project Planning; Panel on Peer Review) (2002)
Available at: The National Academies Press
"Human Population and Freshwater Resources: U.S. Cases and International Perspectives, "Case Study: Western Water”, Yale University School of Forestry, Bulletin 107 (2002)
"Envisioning the Agenda for Water Resources Research in the Twenty-First Century", Water Science and Technology Board (co-author), (2001)
Available at: The National Academies Press
"Prior Appropriation,” entry in four-volume Water Sciences Encyclopedia (McMillan Science Library) (2003)
"Instream Flows in New Mexico”, 7 Rivers 155 (peer reviewed journal) (2000)
"Our Aspirations for the West’s People and Rivers: An Anthem for the Turn of the Century", Plum Creek Lecture Series, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, March 7, 1999. Published in Water in the West, School of Forestry, University of Montana, 2000.
"Federalism and Western Water Policy in the United States,” European University Institute, Robert Schuman Centre, Working Group on Environmental Studies Newsletter (1999)
"The Western Water Policy Review Advisory Commission: Watershed and Basin Management Receive the Attention of a New Generation,” Journal of the American Water Resources Association (1999).
The Western Water Policy Review Advisory Commission: Another Look at Western Water, 37 Nat. Resources J. 909 (1997).
State and Tribal Water Quality Standards Under the Clean Water Act: A Case Study, 35 Nat. Resources J. 771 (1995).
Federalism and the Prevention of Groundwater Contamination, 27 Water Resources Res. 2811 (1991)
Available at LoboVault
"Denise D. Fort on Recent Books on John Wesley Powell", 44 Natural Resources Journal 319 (2004)
"Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America's Fresh Waters" by Robert Glennon, American Institute of Biological Sciences, BioScience (2003)
"From Reclamation to Sustainability: Water, Agriculture, and the Environment in the American West", by Lawrence J. MacDonnell. 41 Natural Resources Journal 173 (2001)
"The Struggle for Water: Politics, Rationality, and Identity in the American Southwest", by Wendy Nelson Espeland, New Mexico Historical Review (January 2001)
Climate Change Legislation, New Mexico Forestry and Climate Change Workshop, November 20, 2008.
From Mountaintop to River Bottom: Restoring New Mexico’s Watersheds, Funding Your Watershed Project, Albuquerque, October 1, 2008.
The ABA Environment, Energy and Resources Law Summit: 16th Section Fall Meeting, Plenary Session: There Will Be Water-Or Will There? Phoenix, AZ, September 2008.
CLE International, New Mexico Water Law, Current Developments in Water Quality, Albuquerque, August 2008.
CLE International, New Mexico Water Law, The Fate of the Gila, Santa Fe, NM, August 2006.
Public Lands Law Review, University of Montana School of Law, "Where will we get our water in the future-A new era of federal involvement with western water?" Missoula, MT, October 7, 2005.
University of Leuven, Vermont Law School and Maastricht University, 6th Annual Global Conference on Environmental Taxation: Issues, Experiences, and Potential
The Promotion of Renewable Energy Sources Through Tax or Other Market-Based Measures-Challenges and Obstacles, Sept. 22-24 2005, Faculty Club and Convent de Chievres, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
International Water Law Research Institute, University of Dundee, "Institutions for Sustainability,” Good Water Governance for People and Nature: Water Role for Law, Institutions, Science and Finance, Dundee, Scotland, August 29-September 2, 2004.
New Mexico Water Law: Law, Policy and Beyond, CLE International, August 17, 2004, "The Economics of Water in New Mexico: Water Use and State and Federal Funding," Santa Fe, NM.
New Mexico Water Law: Water Rights, Quality, and Policy, "Federal Water Developments”, CLE International, August 19, 2003, Santa Fe, NM.
University of Colorado, Natural Resources Law Center, "Climate Change and the Rio Grande: Throwing Gasoline on a Fire,” presentation and concluding panel, June 11, 2003.
Aspen Global Climate Change Institute, presentation and summary panel, June 5-10, 2003.
American Water Resources Association, Washington, D.C., Sept. 18, 2002.
Utton Transboundary Resources Center, Interstate Waters: Crossing Borders for Sustainable Solutions, "Environmental Perspectives”, Snowbird, Utah, Oct. 11, 2002.
Universidad Internacional Menendez Palayo, Technicas de gestion de los recursos hidraulicos en el siglo XXI. Nuevos objectivos y actitudes. " Objectivos y actitudes en la planifacion y gestion de Recursos Hidricos en Estados Unidos”, Oct. 3, 2001, Alicante, Spain.
New Mexico Water Law: Water Rights, Quality, and Policy, "The New Regime in Washington”, CLE International, August 10, 2001, Santa Fe, NM, with Daniel Dietzel ('03).
Two Decades of Water Law and Policy Reform, " Creating Better Governance,” University of Colorado School of Law, Natural Resources Law Center, Boulder, CO, June 13-15, 2001.
Human Population and Freshwater Workshop, "Case Study: Western Water,” Yale University, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Co-organized by the Center for Environment and Population (CEP); National Wildlife Federation (NWF), and Population Resource Center, March 22-23, 2001.
Law of the Rio Grande Conference, "Can the Federal Mandates of the Endangered Species Act be Reconciled with State Water Rights?” CLE International, Albuquerque, Feb. 1, 2001.
Law of the Rio Grande Conference, Program Co-Chair and Presentor, "Protection of Endangered Species: Invitation to Restoration,” CLE International, Albuquerque, NM, March 16, 17, 2000.
Netroots, "New Mexico: A Case Study,” Austin, TX, July 2008.
National Research Council and National Groundwater Association, Water Quantity and Managed Underground Storage, Washington, D.C., March 19, 2008.
American Water Resources Association, 2007 Annual Water Resources Conference, "How and Why to Revive the Santa Fe River,” Albuquerque, Nov. 14, 2007.
American Water Resources Association, 2007 Annual Water Resources Conference, "Linking Climate and Water Resource Management Knowledge Networks” Albuquerque, Nov. 13, 2007.
Policy Issues in Western Water, Western Progress, Boulder, CO, Oct. 23, 2007
Participant, National Academy of Sciences Planning Meeting: Adaptation to Climate Change, Washington, D.C., Oct. 25, 2007
Colorado Ground Water Management Policy-Focus on Legal and Institutional Opportunities for Aquifer Recharge and Storage, Session I, Use of Aquifers for Storage in Other States, Sept. 28, 2007
Oxford Roundtable, "A Snail’s Pace” Global Warming, Oxford, G.B. August 2007.
State Bar of New Mexico, CLE, Global Warming, Planned and moderated presentations. Albuquerque, NM. December 2006.
Natural Resources Law Center, Annual Conference, Climate Change and Agriculture. Boulder, CO., June 2006
Citizens for Global Solutions, World Water Needs, Santa Fe, NM, October 2005.
H2O Conference, Water Privatization, Santa Fe, NM, June 2005.
NM State Bar and the Utton Center, New Mexico and the West: Facing our Water Reality, "Federal and State Responses to Drought: The Bottom Line” Albuquerque, NM, May, 20, 2005.
Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities: Growth and Development in the Land of Enchantment: Past, Present, and Future, "Every Last Drop: Why Water Matters,” March 9, 2005.
NRDC, et al., Hispanics and the Environment: Issues, Public Opinion and Politics, "Hispanics and Environmental Justice Issues,” Albuquerque, April 27, 2004.
CLE International Rio Grande Superconference, "The Silvery Minnow,” Albuquerque, Feb. 5-6, 2004.
New Mexico Appellate Courts, Water Briefing, Taos, NM, Nov. 7, 2003.
Co-convener, Governor’s Conference on the Rio Grande Silvery Minnow, Santa Fe, NM, Oct. 3, 2003.
Center for the Southwest, Heating Up, Panelist, Global Warming/Climate Change: Considering What to Do, Albuquerque, N.M., April 12, 2003.
American Meterological Society, Presenter and Moderator, Impacts of Water Variability: Benefits and Challenges, "The Uneasy Relationship Between Science and Law: Protecting Endangered Species,” Long Beach, CA, Feb. 10, 2003.
World Wildlife Federation et al., Everglades Conference, Rio Grande and the Everglades: Rescuing American Icons, Delray Beach, FL, Jan. 11, 2003.
Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, H2O University: Basics and Beyond Water Seminar, "Silvery Minnow and Related Endangered Species Issues”, Dec. 13, 2002.
Western Water Alliance, Western Water Policy and Issues Convening, San Francisco, CA., Analysis of Post-Election Landscape, Nov. 22, 2002.
Adapting for Sustainability: Can western water law and policy and the management of water resources be ecologically and economically sustainable? Water and the New West: Economics, Politics and Nature; Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism; Annenberg School for Communications; University of Southern California; Los Angeles, CA; June 25-29, 2002
American Planning Association, Annual Meeting, Bettman Symposium, Water and Growth, April 14, 2002, Chicago, IL.
American Society of Civil Engineers, World Water & Environmental Resources Congress 2001, Plenary Session, "Sustainable Water Resources, Dam Removal & Restoration, Western U.S. Perspective” Orlando, FL, May 23, 2001.
Interstate Council on Water Policy, 2000 Annual Meeting, Is there a Need for a National Water Resources Policy ? Chicago, IL, Sept. 19, 2000.
National Academy of Public Administration, 2000 Academy Spring Meeting, Transformation of Governance, Management of Water Resources, Albuquerque, N.M., June 1, 2000.
American Geophysical Union, 2000 Spring Meeting, Federal Water Policy for the West, Washington, D.C., May 31, 2000.
Race Judicata, Coloring the Ivory Tower, Environmental Justice, Moderator, University of New Mexico School of Law, March 6, 2000.
New Mexico Common Cause, Campaign Finance Reform, Moderator, Albuquerque, NM, Jan. 26, 2000.
State Bar of New Mexico, Annual Convention, Environmental Law Update, Oct. 22, 1999.
American Ground Water Trust, Tucson, AZ, keynote speech, The National Interest in Ground Water, Sept. 1, 1999.
University of Colorado, Boulder, Natural Resources Law Center, Western Water Policy Review Advisory Commission: An Agenda for Action, June 8, 1999. (Panel with Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt)
Western Environmental Grantmakers, Aqua es Vida, San Francisco, CA, April 28, 1999.
China-U.S. Water Resources Workshop, "The Rio Grande Basin”, Tucson, AZ, April 18, 1999.
Wallace Stegner Center, Law, Policy, and the River, University of Utah College of Law, April 16, 1999.
World Humanity Action Trust, "Water and Sustainability”, San Francisco, CA, January 19, 1999.
Switzer Foundation, Annual Meeting, Keynote, September 27, 1999.