Public Good and Private Magic in the Law of Land Trusts and Conservation Easements: A Happy Present and a Troubled Future
26 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2007
The laws that provide the framework for the national environmental regulatory structure remain in a perilous and apparently perpetual reauthorization holding pattern in Congress. State legislatures appear unwilling to undertake environmental protection where the federal government no longer will. But someone establishes a new private land trust, committed to scenic, historic or ecological preservation on an average of once a week.
The land trust movement furthers the public good in ways that other more public aspects of the environmental protection movement cannot because it possesses a private magic. I use the word magic for its two meanings, the art of producing illusions . . . by the use of sleight of hand and the art of producing a desired effect or result through . . . techniques that presumably assure human control over supernatural agencies . . . I leave to the reader whether the private magic of land trusts and conservation easements is simply legal sleight of hand or the operation of some occult controlling principle of nature.
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