Michelle Ouellette is a partner in the Environmental Law & Natural Resources practice group of Best Best & Krieger LLP and a former member of the firm’s Executive Committee.
With 25 years of experience, Ms. Ouellette represents municipal, district and private clients in environmental issues arising under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the state and federal Endangered Species Acts, and wetlands regulations, She assists public and private agency clients in all aspects of CEQA and NEPA compliance, including the preparation and review of addenda, negative declarations, environmental impact reports and environmental impact statements. She also has extensive CEQA and NEPA litigation experience and recently successfully defended many CEQA documents, including the Environmental Impact Report/ Environmental Impact Statement prepared for long-term Stephen’s kangaroo rat Habitat Conservation Plan.
She has assisted with consultation and conservation matters involving the Stephen’s kangaroo rat, San Bernardino kangaroo rat, Delhi Sands Flower-Loving Fly, Quino Checkerspot Butterfly, and Peninsular Bighorn Sheep. Ms. Ouellette assisted the Country of Riverside in the development of the Western Riverside Country Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP), its Implementing Agreement and its Environmental Impact Report/ Environmental Impact Statement. The MSHCP is one of the largest conservation plans in the United States.
Ms. Ouellete also provides water rights and water quality representation and represented the Lake Hemet Municipal Water District in negotiations concerning the water rights of the Soboba Band of Mission Indians on the San Jacinto River. She has represented both public and private clients in water quality and wetlands regulations, including representation before the State Water Resources Control Board and Regional Water Quality Control Boards.
Ms. Ouellette is currently serving a two-year term as senior vice-chair of the International Bar Association’s Committee on Environment, Health & Safety. She was 2005 president of the Riverside Country Bar Association. Ms. Ouellette teaches courses in environmental law at the University of California, Riverside and Irvine. She has authored articles and frequently lectures on CEQA and the Endangered Species Act.
Michelle Ouellette attended the University of California, Santa Barbara and received her Bachelor’s Degree with honors before completing her J.D. at the University of Southern California. Ms. Ouellette joined Best Best & Krieger in 1989 as first-year associate.
Through her successful career, Ouellete has been awarded with numerous recognitions: “The Best Lawyers in America”, Daily Journal Top Women Lawyers in California, Diversity Journal Women Worth Watching, Super Lawyers Business Edition, Daily Journal Top 50 Development Attorney in California, Southern California Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America- Environmental litigator “Lawyer of the Year”, and Top Rated Lawyer in Energy, Environmental Litigator & Natural Resources amongst others.