What is Public Trust Doctrine?

Public trust doctrine is a legal principle establishing that the government owns and manages certain natural and cultural resources for public use. Natural resources held in trust can include navigable waters, wildlife, or land. The public is considered the owner of the resources; the government is entrusted with managing these resources

A good starting resource is Mary Christina Woods books, speeches, etc.  Here is a link to her book and more information about her and her crusade.

Mary Wood's Crusade to Reinvigorate the Public Trust Doctrine

As we continue to increase our understanding of Public Trust Doctrine, it is important to note how and where this doctrine is woven explicitly into existing State Statutes.

Here in the opening narrative of Minnesota's Environmental Policy Act we can see that the doctrine is actually incorporated as a specific responsibility of government functioning as "trustee of the environment for succeeding generations".

To access the web version of the Minnesota Environmental Policy statute go to
2017 Minnesota Statutes - CHAPTER 116D. ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY.

Terry Houle

Minnesota Division Izaak Walton League of America

Contact us at ikes@minnesotaikes.org.

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