Monday, August 12, 2019

Should Eminent Domain be Reinstated?

trail in Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness
Off-road trail is a goal, but how can it be accomplished? (photo by jhy)

from a story in Outside

Jim Kern, founder of a new advocacy group called Hiking Trails for America, believes the only way to complete the National Trails System is by bringing back the ability to acquire land for trails by the use of eminent domain.

The only trail which ever had this authority was the Appalachian Trail, and there was so much backlash afterwards that the next several trails authorized (including the North Country Trail) were not only denied this tool, but they were banned from buying land. Only in recent years has Congress finally authorized the NCT to buy land, even from willing sellers.

Kern points out, “Every long, thin corridor that is important in America—a gas line, a railroad—[developers] wouldn’t think of doing it without eminent domain.”

Eminent domain for any purpose generally results in hard feelings and resentment. Amy Lindholm, who manages the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition replied to Kern. “I understand why you would advocate for eminent domain. It would certainly make things more expedient. But there just isn’t the political support for it.”

Currently, trails make their way across private land by means of handshake agreements, which are highly vulnerable to change, easements of various types, and outright purchase where possible.

If it were reasonable to think that trails could gain land by eminent domain, would it be worth the public backlash? Jim Kern believes it is the only way.

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See Hiking Trails for America
See The Controversial Plan to Protect America's Trails
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