Bret Birdsong

Professor of Law
Expertise: Public Lands and Natural Resources Law, Water Law, Environmental Quality Law, Property Law, Administrative Law


UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law professor Bret Birdsong is a recognized expert in public lands management, federal natural resources, water rights, food system, and conservation law. 

Prior to joining UNLV, Birdsong served the United States Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division, as a trial attorney focusing on public land and natural resources litigation from 1994 to 2000. As an Ian Axford Fellow in Public Policy in 1998, he studied New Zealand's specialized Environment Court and served as a visiting fellow in the office of New Zealand's Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

More recently, he served in the Obama administration as deputy solicitor for Land Resources at the U.S. Department of the Interior, providing counsel to the Secretary of the Interior regarding the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and other agencies regarding important conservation and land management policy initiatives.

Birdsong is a co-author of Natural Resources Law: A Place-Based Book of Problems and Cases, and edits chapters on Federal Reserved Water Rights and Interstate Water Allocation in the Treatise Waters and Water Rights.


  • J.D., University of California, Hastings College of the Law
  • B.A., Princeton University

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Bret Birdsong In The News

Las Vegas Review Journal
Once your tires vibrate passing over your first cattle guard out of the Las Vegas Valley, chances are you are about to stumble into what makes much of Nevada one of the last untouched Western frontiers — public land.
The US Department of the Interior has a nice little present for America: a new “Public Lands Rule” that will fundamentally change how the government manages public lands. For the first time ever the US will require that recreation, conservation, habitat preservation, and clean energy development balance out land use policy, which for most of US history has been aimed primarily at handing over parcels of public lands for commercial exploitation.
Environment+Energy Leader
There’s good news and bad news. According to the National Economic Research Associates, the United States is awash in natural gas, enabling it to meet future corporate demand — if regulators allow companies to build pipelines. The same study says the country can export natural gas while keeping prices low at home.
The Nevada Independent
Possible consolidation of parcels puts public land users on edge as concerns about access abound.

Articles Featuring Bret Birdsong

Graduation surprise
Campus News | August 1, 2023

News stories from the summer featuring UNLV students and faculty.

aerial of Colorado River
Research | May 10, 2022

Confronted in our desert backyard by the inescapable effects of a deteriorating environment, these UNLV researchers, professors, and activists are fighting to mitigate the effects of climate change on scientific, legal, and sociological fronts.

Professor Nancy Lough standing in front of Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas
People | January 4, 2021

Great places are made of great people. Here are a few who made the news in 2020.