The Public Trust Doctrine (PTD) is a very simple and appealing idea that natural resources (and the benefits we derive from them) belong to all citizens, and future generations of citizens. The government only holds them in trust for us. As a trustee, the government has certain grave obligations–to protect the trust, to grow the trust and to repair the trust should it be damaged. The PTD is basal to US law and has been mostly quietly upheld and expanded in the courts to clearly pertain to natural resources, access to natural areas, ecosystems and livelihoods derived from them.
All of this work was driven by my amazing former student Mary Turnipseed. Together with Larry Crowder and Steve Roady, we have put together publications on the Public Trust Doctrine in the headiest law journals, environmental magazines, review volumes, science journals, and op-ed pages. We hope you’ll read these and join the emerging conversation about trust.