Private land trusts are proliferating around the nation as ways of preserving environmental values. So why not a federal land trust to manage the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah?
This 1.9 million-acre expanse of land has been mired in controversy since President Clinton designated it a national monument in 1996. Many people fear that the designation will curtail traditional uses of the land such as mining and grazing. Others fear the environment won't be protected.
PERC scholars Terry L. Anderson and Holly L. Fretwell argue that management of Grand Staircase-Escalante by a land trust would achieve both environmental and economic goals. The trust they propose would require the managers of the land to finance its support through revenues earned from the land.
In their paper, "A Trust for Grand Staircase-Escalante," Anderson and Fretwell point out that the land currently earns $465,750 per year from recreation and commodity production. They calculate that it could earn $7,603,250 per year, and they spell out how that could happen. The funds could be used by the trust for environmental protection and restoration.
The trust concept is already being used to manage the Presidio, the former Army base in San Francisco, according to the authors, and. trusts are also used by states to provide funds for schools.
This paper is available from PERC or on this web site.