The Public Trust Doctrine: Where Ecology Meets Natural Resources Management

27 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2012

See all articles by Rafe Sagarin

Rafe Sagarin

University of Arizona

Mary Turnipseed

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)

Date Written: November 2012

Abstract

The public trust doctrine (PTD) is a legal concept with ancient roots, and it is increasingly being examined as a framework for modern conservation. At its core, the PTD is based on the idea that certain natural resources cannot be fairly or effectively managed by private owners. Rather, these resources should be held in trust by government, which must manage their consumptive use and protection on behalf of present and future citizens. Although historically the PTD applied to a limited set of natural resources such as shellfish beds and submerged lands, courts and legal scholars have expanded the definition of trust resources to include wildlife, oceans, and ecosystem services generally. The wide range of interpretations of the PTD is seen as both a weakness (because it leads to uncertainty in property ownership) and a strength (because it can adapt to accommodate emerging science about what it takes to protect ecosystems).

Suggested Citation

Sagarin, Rafe and Turnipseed, Mary, The Public Trust Doctrine: Where Ecology Meets Natural Resources Management (November 2012). Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Vol. 37, pp. 473-496, 2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2163591 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-031411-165249

Rafe Sagarin (Contact Author)

University of Arizona ( email )

Department of History
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States

Mary Turnipseed

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) ( email )

South Hall 5504
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States

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