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Big Roads, Big Rights: Varieties of Public Infrastructure and Their Impact on Environmental Resources, 50 Arizona Law Review 409 (2008)


Two types of public infrastructure—roads and property rights—are often thought critical to economic development; this Article compares their impacts on the natural environment. Both roads and property rights draw unfamiliar persons to remote areas, undermine existing informal resource practices, and enhance wide commercial trade, creating wealth but also reducing local resource diversity. New kinds of property rights hold much promise for environmental protection, but unlike roads and conventional property rights, environmental property rights would be tasked with curtailing commerce, as in roadless areas and caps on resource use. This sharp divergence from the traditional commercial mission of public infrastructure can limit support for environmental property rights, creating an opening for fuzzier and more consultative versions of environmental property.

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