The Public Trust Doctrine: Assessing Its Recent Past & Charting Its Future
Richard Frank | January 1st, 2012
For over four decades, the public trust doctrine has served as a foundational principle of modern environmental and natural resources law. This issue of the UC Davis Law Review , and the related, major symposium that drew a standing-room-only audience to King Hall in March 2011, demonstrate the continuing vitality of the public trust.
The scholarship featured in these pages continues the UC Davis Law School’s leadership role concerning the doctrine, examines its recent development, and poses key questions regarding its future course.
Much has been written about the public trust doctrine, and the articles in this volume explore many of its nuances and implications. Simply stated, however, the doctrine provides that certain natural resources are held by the government in a special status — in “trust” — for current and future generations. Government officials may neither alienate those resources in
to private ownership nor permit their injury or destruction. To the contrary, those officials have an affirmative, ongoing duty to safeguard the long-term preservation of those resources for the benefit of the general public.