Natural Resources

Fall 2011 Natural Resources Law Class at UB

Better Steward of Natural Resources? October 21, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mmh22 @ 5:10 pm

Economist Milton Friedman used Central Park, and the theaters and museums of New York as an example of why private groups are better qualified to maintain property. During the 1970s and 80s Central Park was ridden with crime, with more than 3 crimes reported per day. (In 2005 that number was down to less than 5 per month) Friedman juxtaposed Central Park with the privately maintained theaters and museums of New York. These properties have never had issues with violent crime or vandalism. A video of Friedman’s comparison is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbMV3mys-jQ&feature=player_embedded

Clearly Friedman’s analysis is not free from criticism. First, Central Park is tremendously different from a museum. The park is much larger, poorly lit, and entrance and exit can not me monitored like they can from a single building. Furthermore, after the 1980s the park began to be managed much more efficiently: anyone who has visited the park recently can attest to this. However, Friedman’s point still does have some merit. Most museums in New York are privately operated, and most parks publicly operated. Why did the parks at one point become crime ridden, and the museums stayed safe?

 

Privately maintaned religous statute in a National Forest

Filed under: Uncategorized — mmh22 @ 4:41 pm

The Knights of Columbus have been maintaining a statute of Jesus, to honor WWII soldiers, in Flathead National Forest since 1953. The Forest Service leases the Knights a 625 sq ft. parcel of land on which they maintain the statute. Every ten years the Knights apply for a permit to renew their lease, and have had it approved for 50 years until this year. The Forest Service decided not to renew the permit after their General Counsel’s office advised them against it. The Forest Service states that the permit would likely run afoul of the establishment clause, and they also cited a fear of litigation over the issue. Montana’s sole congressman, Denny Rehberg, is working with the Knights to keep the statute in the park.

At first it appeared rather straightforward that a religious statute in a National Forest should likely not be allowed. However, I then remembered that the Park Service maintains various national cemeteries. Many grave-markers in these cemeteries have crosses, Stars of David, or other religious symbols on them. It appears that we are OK with some religious symbols in our national parks and forests, but not all types. Where should the line get drawn?