The Public Trust Doctrine: A Twenty-First Century Concept

5 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2009 Last revised: 5 Oct 2009

Date Written: September 4, 2009


This article briefly surveys the evolution of the public trust doctrine in 19th and 20th century America and discusses some notable recent developments, particularly in the doctrine's scope. It also discusses a treatise project on the public trust doctrine the author is undertaking with a colleague as well as three recent student publications the project has produced on the federal common law nature of the doctrine, its applicability to uplands like parks and beaches, and the adoption of the doctrine in the 2008 Great Lakes Compact. The article serves as an introduction to the publication of two of those articles.

Keywords: public trust doctrine, environmental law, public property

JEL Classification: K11, K32, Q 22, Q24, Q25

Suggested Citation

Blumm, Michael C., The Public Trust Doctrine: A Twenty-First Century Concept (September 4, 2009). Hastings West-Northwest Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, Vol. 14, 2009, Lewis & Clark Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009-21, Available at SSRN:

Michael C. Blumm (Contact Author)

Lewis & Clark Law School ( email )

10015 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219
United States
503-768-6824 (Phone)
503-768-6701 (Fax)

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