Proprietary Duties of the Federal Government Under the Public Land Trust

This Note examines one mechanism by which the courts might supervise public land administration: the common-law public land trust. It contends that by implementing this trust, which is a means of enforcing the government’s responsibility for property held in a proprietary capacity, the courts can rectify their neglect of the public lands without overstepping the boundaries of permissible judicial involvement. The trust doctrine is particularly valuable in this context because it is a source of substantive standards in situations where statutes provide little guidance. Vitalization of the public land trust, which is distinct from the more commonly known public trust, would have many ramifications, but this Note will focus upon one of them: the government’s duty to secure fair market value from sales and leases of public land resources.