Law, College of


Date of this Version



Published in IDAHO LAW REVIEW Vol. 38 (2002), pp. 473-504.


Through characters like farmer McElligot and the Lorax, who spoke out against the greedy Once-ler and his destructive clear-cutting practices, Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Suess, vividly depicted the plight of many private lands and waterways in the twentieth century. Although the message still resonates with children (and adults) today, the ecological health of private land has not improved a whole lot since Geisel wrote McElligot's Pool in 1947. Don't get me wrong, there have been immense gains in industrial pollution control and in habitat preservation on public lands. Yet there is still a long way to go, particularly on private lands. And it is not just the ponds, streams, and wetlands that are suffering. The destruction of wooded areas, loss and contamination of topsoil, depletion and pollution of surface and ground water, and air pollutants have all contributed to the poor health of rural America. The pressure to boost yields with modem chemicals and to plant to the edge of the water in the face of ever-declining crop prices is at least as compelling today as it was then. Perhaps the largest factor in the demise of biodiversity nation-wide, though, is the loss of open space to sprawling suburban subdivisions. Residential and commercial development is rapidly devouring much of the best farmland in the country, blanketing it with a sea of pavement, while a steady stream of farmers pack in generations of smallscale, diverse and generally sustainable family farms.

Included in

Legal Studies Commons