The Construction of Ownership
Eric T. Freyfogle   |   1996 U. Ill. L. Rev.

In response to a modern culture that increasingly relies on patchwork remedies for societal problems instead of careful forethought to prevent them, Professor Freyfogle calls for a fundamental change in our land-ownership jurisprudence. Current property law does little to discourage a landowner from acting in self-serving ways to accommodate immediate needs--a shortcoming that necessarily sacrifices the land's long-term health. After tracing the development of our country's land-ownership norms, Professor Freyfogle urges us to readjust our vision of the rights and responsibilities that accompany land ownership. This new vision must place a premium on our duty to use the land in ways respectful, not just of other land owners but of the land itself. In his thoughtful appeal, Professor Freyfogle challenges landowners and lawmakers to raise their land-use goals so as to help nourish the land's health and reinvigorate our faded senses of local community.

* Professor of Law, University of Illinois. B.A. 1973, Lehigh University; J.D. 1976, University of Michigan. This essay was originally prepared as a presentation at a conference on The Forest Commons, sponsored by Appalachia-Science in the Public Interest, in Richmond, Kentucky, on March 31, 1995.