Public Lands: Pride, Place, Proximity & Power

Donald Kochan

Professor Donald Kochan has a new article on public lands and federalism just published in Volume 25, Issue 1, Page 1, by the Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law.  The full article, Public Lands: Pride, Place, Proximity & Power, can be downloaded here. Here is the abstract:

Where to place power regarding the ownership and management of public lands is a matter of longstanding debate, yet has been energized to a new degree with the advent of the Trump Administration. This essay does not seek to resolve complicated and intense matters within this debate nor propose any specific, best solutions to competing claims for proper placement of power. What this Essay does aim to do is explain some of the key metrics that should not be missed in the debates. These are metrics which could be advanced to support greater decentralization of power over public lands and that should be addressed if one is to make a valid claim for a more centralized approach to power.

Among the factors discussed in the Essay that make trusting decentralized control more acceptable are: (1) the pride individuals have in the resources they control, with which they identify, or from which their personal identity is enhanced; (2) the attachment to place that is exhibited by individuals who feel a connection and responsibility with a particular place, including geographic space; and (3) the relative benefits of proximity to enriching the potency of the place, pride, and other conservation-attentive characteristics of caring for public lands.

The Essay focuses on what we know from property ownership as a means of understanding ways to maximize ownership-like management and control responsibilities to enhance the multiple values of public lands.

Portions of Professor Kochan’s essay are adapted and expanded from a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, in Simi Valley, California, on January 30, 2016 as part of the panel on “Federalism, the Environment, Land Use, and Energy Independence,” at the Tenth Annual Federalist Society Western Chapters Conference. (video, with Kochan presentation at 44:23).  This essay is also an outgrowth of work done as a Lone Mountain Fellow at the Property & Environment Research Center (PERC) in Bozeman, Montana, during the summer of 2016.

Donald Kochan

Professor of Law and Executive Director, Law and Economics Center

Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University

Energy & Environment

The Federalist Society and Regulatory Transparency Project take no position on particular legal or public policy matters. All expressions of opinion are those of the author(s). To join the debate, please email us at [email protected].

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