Public Lands: Pride, Place, Proximity & Power

27 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2018

See all articles by Donald J. Kochan

Donald J. Kochan

Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University

Date Written: March 22, 2018


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.

Keywords: Public Lands, Land Management, Federalism, Owner Attachment to Property, Natural Resources, Lands Stewardship, Conservation Pride, Private Conservation, Property

Suggested Citation

Kochan, Donald J., Public Lands: Pride, Place, Proximity & Power (March 22, 2018). Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, Vol. 25, No. 1, 2018, Available at SSRN:

Donald J. Kochan (Contact Author)

Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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