The US public lands as commons

Authored by: Bruce Huber

Routledge Handbook of the Study of the Commons

Print publication date:  January  2019
Online publication date:  January  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138060906
eBook ISBN: 9781315162782
Adobe ISBN:


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For many US scholars, the federal public lands are (or once were) perhaps the archetypal commons. To visualize Hardin’s pasture is, in all likelihood, to imagine a landscape somewhere in the American Mountain West, with herdsmen competing for valuable pasture in an otherwise arid territory. For Hardin, even the US National Parks—the crown jewels of the federal system of public lands—were paradigmatic commons, leading Hardin to conclude that “we must soon cease to treat the parks as commons or they will be of no value to anyone” (Hardin 1968, 1245).

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