OSU Conference to Focus on Public vs. Private Land Debate


CORVALLIS - Balancing the rights of the private land owner with the goals and needs of the public is becoming increasingly difficult and controversial as America's population swells and available land shrinks.

The issues arising from that conflict are the focus of a special conference Jan. 30 to Feb. 1 at Oregon State University.

Called "Land in the American West: Private Claims and the Common Good," the conference has drawn some of the top experts on public and private land issues from the Pacific Northwest and around the country. Registration for the entire conference is $15, though some of the events are free. All are open to the public.

"You see many of the issues involving the public-private debate in the news media every day," said William Robbins, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts at OSU and an organizer of the conference. "Urban sprawl, grazing rights, liveability, habitat for salmon, managing our national forests - these are all issues that balance the rights of individuals with the 'common good.'"

Speakers at the conference - many of whom have opposing viewpoints -include political scientists, legal scholars, historians, economists, representatives of government agencies and writers.

The conference will open Thursday night, Jan. 30, with a keynote speech by Richard White of the University of Washington. Regarded as one of the nation's leading historians, White will speak on "Contested Terrain: The Business of Land in the American West." His talk, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in LaSells Stewart Center, is free and open to the public.

The conference will continue all day Friday, and through midday on Saturday, concluding with a luncheon and speech by Charles Wilkinson, the Moses Lasky Professor at the University of Colorado School of Law. Wilkinson will analyze land use patterns and priorities in a growing population. His talk, which also is free and open to the public, will begin at 12:30 p.m. in LaSells Stewart Center.

Other sessions include:


"The Encounter With Ideas," featuring Daniel Bromley, University of Wisconsin and James Huffman, Lewis and Clark College, in an analysis of the debate between public interest and the rights of private individuals. 8:30 a.m., LaSells Stewart Center.

"The Ecological Context," with Jerry Franklin, University of Washington, speaking on the importance of public lands from an ecological perspective. 10:30 a.m., LaSells Stewart Center.

"Property and Freedom," featuring Bruce Yandle, Clemson University, and Dennis Coyle, Catholic University, in an overview on the meaning of "private property." 1:30 p.m., LaSells Stewart Center.

"Private Rights and Public Access." Historians William Rowley, University of Nevada-Reno, and Maria Montoya, University of Michigan, look at the history of open ranges and other issues. 3:30 p.m., LaSells Stewart Center.

"Writers and Western Landscapes," readings from authors William Kittredge, University of Montana; Craig Lesley, Portland; and Kathleen Moore, OSU. 7:30 p.m., Milam Auditorium. Free and open to the public.


"Legal Encounters and Western Lands," an analysis of the legal status and implications of property rights, featuring Keith Aoki, University of Oregon School of Law, and Michael McCann and Sarah Pralle, University of Washington. 8:30 a.m., LaSells Stewart Center (Ag Production Room).

"Science, Policy and Land Management," with Thomas A. Spies, U.S. Forest Service, and Nancy Langston, University of Wisconsin. 8:30 a.m., LaSells Stewart Center (Engineering Auditorium).

"Ethics, Private Claims and the Common Good," an overview of ethical issues involved in land use decisions, featuring Emery Castle, Oregon State University, and Eugene C. Hargrove, University of Texas-North Texas. 10:30 a.m., LaSells Stewart Center (Engineering Auditorium).

"Urban Settings and National Parks," featuring Carl Abbott, Portland State University, and Arthur Gomez, the National Park Service. 10:30 a.m., LaSells Stewart Center (Ag Production Room).

"Beyond Growth Management: Confronting the Edge of Population Stabilization," the concluding address by Charles Wilkinson, Moses Lasky Professor, University of Colorado School of Law. (luncheon at noon; free public speech at 12:30 p.m., LaSells Stewart Center.

The conference is sponsored by OSU's College of Liberal Arts and The Oregon Council for the Humanities, with support from The Jackson Foundation of Portland, The Horning Endowment for the Humanities, and numerous OSU programs.

For registration information, contact the OSU College of Liberal Arts at 541-737-4582.