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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environment, law, sustainability

Bret Birdsong In The News

K.N.P.R. News
In 2018, the EPA handed oversight of the Anaconda mine cleanup project in Yerington to the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection.
The Nevada Independent
In April 2015, as the state entered the fourth consecutive year of widespread drought, then-Gov. Brian Sandoval empaneled the Nevada Drought Forum to gather recommendations about how to better manage water. The panel spent that year putting together a long list of policies.
Even as the transition from a Trump to a Biden administration limps along, hamstrung by the recalcitrance of the outgoing administration, Joe Biden has been busy putting together dozens of transition groups and agency review teams that will be responsible for understanding the operations of major federal agencies and preparing the President-elect, Vice President-elect Harris and their cabinet to take the executive reins of the federal government on January 20, 2021.
Biden's transition team is preparing for the transfer of power even as President Donald Trump refuses to concede. The Biden-Harris transition on Tuesday unveiled its agency review teams, which will lay the groundwork within agencies for the new administration. The list provides a look at what a Biden administration might look like, since many of the same names could end up with jobs in the agencies and will influence who the administration ultimately hires.

Articles Featuring Bret Birdsong

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.