In Defense of Public Lands

The Case against Privatization and Transfer

Steven Davis
Book Cover

PB: $29.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1537-0
Publication: Jun 18

HC: $94.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1536-3
Publication: Jun 18

Ebook: $29.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1538-7
Publication: Jun 18

294 pages
5.25 x 8.5
14 tables, 4 figs., 11 halftones, 1 maps

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

Read the Preface (pdf).


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.

Table of Contents


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

Selected Bibliography

About the Author(s)

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