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"Public trust": what an arresting phrase. Perhaps it is not quite the equal of "the tragedy of the commons," but it catches the attention in a far more positive way, with its intimations of guardianship, responsibility, and community. My task here is to show how Joseph Sax deployed this evocative phrase, and expanded the concepts behind it, to challenge our ideas about natural resource management. For reasons that I hope will become clear, I find that I cannot deal with this task independently of the other topics on the panel—public lands policy to some degree, the takings question to a greater degree, but most of all water law, where the public trust is, if I may use the phrase, deeply immersed.

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