. "10 Resource-Owner Rights and Responsibilities to Invest." Forested Landscapes in Perspective: Prospects and Opportunities for Sustainable Management of America's Nonfederal Forests. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1998.
The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
of 1924). The adverse impact of forestry practices was considered manageable and primarily an issue of providing education and financial assistance in amounts sufficient to change landowner attitudes and actions. However, beginning in the early 1970s additional state and federal laws were established to deal with growing concerns over the status of natural environments, including forest environments. Federal examples are the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, while state examples are the many state laws that regulate forest harvesting and management practices on private land. This most recent period places greater emphasis on government imposition of forest stewardship principles on owners of forest property. Doing so has lead to important debates over forest landowner rights and responsibilities.
Sustainability of forest and related natural resources is achieved in a number of ways, including through the responsible actions of private owners of forestland and through responsible implementation of public policies toward such property by the government. When properly exercised, these responsibilities become, in essence, investments. However, in recent years the distinction between public and private rights and responsibilities has become a major policy issue. In large measure, the issue arises because of such factors as increased government restrictions on the use of private land, increased U.S. Supreme Court protections of private property, increased public and community expectations for access to private forest property, and the appeal of property rights as a means of easing regulatory controls (Meltz 1995). Private forest management is engulfed in the issue of public and private rights and responsibilities and in the various remedies, including ''right to practice forestry laws," suggested to resolve it (Flick et al. 1995, Argow 1996).
As society acts to ensure the sustainability of natural resources in the context of different landowner circumstances, a fundamental issue that must be addressed is whether private landowners have legal or societal responsibilities to protect the land and water they use? The question is often addressed in terms of stewardship, although in recent years the discussion of stewardship has been subsumed in some ways into the larger discussion of sustainable management. Efforts to promote sustainable forestry provide an opportunity to consider the basis for a responsibility of stewardship and the mechanisms available for implementing it. The issue of stewardship over land and natural resources is at the heart of the Jeffersonian model upon which American democracy was founded and finds its roots in religious, political, and ethical principles upon which our society developed.
The responsibility of stewardship is not a new issue in American land-use policy. Henry A. Wallace, secretary of agriculture, in the forward to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) 1938 Yearbook of Agriculture (USDA