Ralph W. Johnson

Click here to send us your remembrances of Ralph Johnson. 

We’ll post them to this website.

CELP works to continue Ralph Johnson’s legacy in protecting rivers and aquifers.  Please join us and make a contribution to support his legacy ~ or contact us about how you can help.  Thank you.

Charles Wilkinson:

Indian people, all of us, have been blessed by seeing Ralph's way of doing it: the plain laying down of right and wrong, buttressed by his own long and full record of integrity and charged by passion and diligence in taking the word to all the people, high and low. The bright line he drew between right and wrong: his writing, his research, his advocacy glow with it--his life glows with it.   [Remarks at the First Annual Ralph Johnson Scholarship Dinner, Native American Law Students Association, University of Washington School of Law, Seattle, Wash. (May30, 1995), from David Getches, Dedication to Professor Ralph W. Johnson.]

David Getches:

Among the proudest accomplishments anyone could count are the advances Professor Johnson has helped bring about in Indian tribal courts. Unsung in public and unrewarded in the halls of academia, Johnson's work for over a decade with the National American Indian Court Judges Association has provided an incomparable service to Indian country and the nation.  [From Dedication to Professor Ralph W. Johnson.]

Rachael Paschal Osborn:

One of Ralph’s greatest contributions was his work in developing the public trust doctrine as a modern theoretical basis for protection of water resources.  An avid fisherman, Ralph experienced firsthand the degradation of streams and rivers caused by unrelenting pressures of extractive water development.  He authored dozens of articles addressing the theory and application of the public trust in public waters, no doubt the most influential of which was his 1980 article “Public Trust Protection for Stream Flows and Lake Levels,” 14 U.C. Davis Law Review 233-67 (1980), cited by the California Supreme Court in support of its famous “Mono Lake” decision, National Audubon Society v. Superior Court of Alpine County, 33 Cal.3d 419, 658 P.2d 1269 (1983).  When searching for a basis to hold that depletion of water from tributary stream diversions was a form of pollution that offended the public interest in environmental quality, the court found Ralph W. Johnson’s analysis persuasive. Since the Mono Lake decision, water law has never been the same.  [from Dedication to Professor Ralph Whitney Johnson 1924-1999.]

Judge Boldt:

I want to express my personal appreciation to you for the fine Law Review Article you published on Indian fishing rights in the Washington Law Review. It was a great help in providing me with a useful framework for analysis.  [Letter from George Boldt, Federal District Court Judge, to Ralph W. Johnson, Professor, University of Washington School of Law (May 10, 1974) (copy on file with Washington Law Review), from David Getches, Dedication to Professor Ralph W. Johnson.]

John Osborn, MD:

Ralph Nader sent me to Charles Wilkinson in my search for a scholarly legal analysis of the 1864 Northern Pacific Railroad Land Grant.  Charles sent me to Ralph Johnson at the University of Washington’s Law School.  I telephoned Professor Johnson.  Ralph told me that the Law School’s Center for Environmental Law and Policy could probably do the analysis, but first he wanted to check with his executive director, Rachael Paschal.  In August, 1994, Ralph introduced me to the woman who would lead the team that did the legal research on the railroad land grant.  That day Ralph also introduced me to the woman who I would later marry:  Rachael.


  Center for

  Environmental Law & Policy