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A comprehensive argument for why public land ought to remain firmly in the public's hands

In Defense of Public Lands

The Case against Privatization and Transfer

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Steven Davis

"In Defense of Public Lands delivers exactly what it promises: a forceful defense of public lands at a crucial moment in American history. After presenting the views of critics of public lands, Davis carefully dismantles their arguments and counters with a compelling set of arguments that draw on history, politics, ecology, and economics to show why our public lands are an irreplaceable national treasure."
James Morton Turner, Associate Professor, Wellesley College, and author of The Promise of Wilderness: American Environmental Politics since 1964

Debates continue to rage over the merits or flaws of public land and whether or not it should be privatized-or at least, radically reconfigured in some way. In Defense of Public Lands offers a comprehensive refutation of the market-oriented arguments. Steven Davis passionately advocates that public land ought to remain firmly in the public's hands. He reviews empirical data and theoretical arguments from biological, economic, and political perspectives in order to build a case for why our public lands are an invaluable and irreplaceable asset for the American people.

In Defense of Public Lands briefly lays out the history and characteristics of public lands at the local, state, and federal levels while examining the numerous policy prescriptions for their privatization or, in the case of federal lands, transfer. He considers the dimensions of environmental health; markets and valuation of public land, the tensions between collective values and individual preferences, the nature and performance of bureaucratic management, and the legitimacy of interest groups and community decision-making. Offering a fair, good faith overview of the privatizers' best arguments before refuting them, this timely book contemplates both the immediate and long-term future of our public lands.

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Excerpt

Read the Preface (pdf).

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Reviews

"In Defense of Public Lands is timely, engaging, and persuasive. Davis presents the privatizers' perspective clearly and accurately and then exposes the illogic and folly of their arguments. The myriad data he assembles, coupled with a feisty writing style, offer a comprehensive defense of public lands. The basic argument itself is not new, but both Davis's presentation and his refutation of the privatizers' claims are fresh, compelling, and convincing."
Ann O'M. Bowman, Professor and Hazel Davis and Robert Kennedy Endowed Chair, Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University, and co-author of Terra Incognita: Vacant Land and Urban Strategies

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Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments

1. Public Land and Its Discontents
2. Every Man for Himself: The Case for Privatization
3. Getting Serious about Ecology: The Biological Case for Public Lands
4. The Valuation of the Invaluable: The Economic Case for Public Lands
5. The Fundamental Democracy of the Commons: The Political Case for Public Lands, Part 1
6. A Closer Look at Government: The Political Case for Public Lands, Part 2
7. The Future of Public Land: Looking Forward in a Time of Peril

Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index

About the Author(s)

Steven Davis is a Professor of Political Science and Environmental Studies at Edgewood College in Madison, WI.

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Subject Categories

Political Science and Public Policy
Nature and the Environment
Business/Economics

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