Conference Draws 200-Plus
Combined efforts from conference Co- Chairs Kelly Martinson and Kelly Samek, 20 other UF law students and 15 lawyers from the Public Interest Committee of the Environmental and Land Use Law Section of The Florida Bar resulted in a record crowd of 200-plus — including 140 paid registrants — at the Ninth Annual Public Interest Conference Feb. 27- March 1. Dr. Bron Taylor, a renowned scholar on religion and nature, examined the evolution of environmentalism, religion’s relationship to the environment, environmental philosophy and environmental law — from passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964 to the Johannesburg Summit in 2001 — at a kick-off reception at the Florida Museum of Natural History. Participants Friday evening were treated to a preview by Wes Skiles of his new film, “Water’s Journey,” to air on PBS stations around the country this October. Fitting appropriately with the conference theme, “Florida’s Final Frontiers,” it chronicled cave divers mapping the Floridian aquifer, with cameras following them underground and a tracking team on the surface, offering dramatic evidence of the impact actions on land have on the quality of underground water supplies. And Jan Schlichtmann, one of the country’s leading civil litigators in environmental protection and product safety and a powerful advocate for the value of mediation, spoke Saturday on representing Massachusetts plaintiffs in the famous case against WR Grace and Beatrice foods and his present practice, where he employs mediation to achieve justice for clients in similar cases. Other sessions examined Florida resources, land and development, water, wildlife and habitats and toxic tort litigation. The conference was sponsored by the UF Environmental and Land Use Law Society and Center for Governmental Responsibility in cooperation with the Environmental and Land Use Law Section of The Florida Bar. Financial support also was provided by the Jelks Family Foundation, UF Student Government, Law College Council and Hopping Green & Sams, P.A. of Tallahassee. 2004 conference Co-Chairs Ryan Osbourne and Erika Zimmerman are planning the 10th annual conference, to be held Feb. 19-21 and include a special tribute to and reunion of alumni who led the first nine.