Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

May 1997


Published in Great Plains Research 7:1 (Spring 1997). Copyright © 1997 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


According to its authors, the dual purpose of this book is to raise its readers' consciousness about state trust lands and to diversify our thinking about the hows and whys of all public resources. They have succeeded admirably on both counts. Everyone interested in the history, politics, economics, and management of western lands and natural resources has much to learn from this study. Souder and Fairfax have produced the benchmark work on the subject.

When most people, including those who consider ourselves "experts" on public affairs in the West, think of public lands we usually think of federal lands with their high political profile, manifested, for example, in the Sagebrush Rebellion. We need reminding that state trust lands, though less a political lightning rod, remain nonetheless significant in terms of their extent (135 million acres), the revenue they yield for state functions like education to which these land trusts are dedicated, and the lessons they afford in public land management.