Let's say you own something
unique, valuable, and fragilea very old baseball card or a rare
dinosaur fossil. Who should take care of it for you? Would you let
a museum have the fossil? Would you store your baseball card in a
closet? Some landscapes are very fragile and need special consideration.
Private landowners have many different opinions when it comes to governmental
presence on their land. Some land owners want the freedom to use the
land as they desire. Other residents appreciate the government's resources
and incorporate its presence into the land. Government plays a role
in most working landscapes either through direct participation or
through laws in the form of zoning, covenants, and easements.
Some of the ways government can influence land use is with zoning,
covenants, and easements.
is locally determined land use control that dictates how land
can be used and the size and type of physical structures that
can be placed on a particular piece of land. Local zoning is public
law and has the power of police behind it. When necessary, land
owners, businesses, and citizens can request that their elected
officials or zoning boards change the zoning laws.
are legally binding agreements between a property buyer and an
organized group such as a homeowners association. These agreements
place certain restrictions on the appearance and use of the purchased
property. Covenants can tell owners the size and number of pets
they can own or the colors they can paint their buildings. When
a person buys a piece of property with a covenant, they are agreeing
to follow all the rules.
are legal restrictions placed on private property that become
part of the property deed. When a person purchases a piece of
property with an easement on it, they must follow the terms of
the easement. A private property owner can place an easement on
his property to govern how the land can be used after it is sold.
Farmers may want to make sure that their land is never turned
into housing developments. An overseer or manager is usually appointed
to make sure the conditions of the easement are followed after
the land is sold.
Some residents and business
owners think zoning, covenants, and easements work well while others
would rather have no governmental influence on the land.
Land Owners and Managers
National Park Service, which is a federal governmental body, owns
and manages many landscapes. State governments also own and protect
some of our fragile ecosystems. These governmental bodies can do
a good job of managing land. They know the fragile aspects of the
environments they manage and are able to restrict use and protect
areas when necessary. Some of these landscapes are not considered
working landscapes. These would include preserves, historical landmarks,
and other areas where ecological or social concerns outweigh economic
it might be a good decision to let a big governmental body own a
unique and sensitive landscape, does the government always have
enough people to manage these areas appropriately? Are government
programs flexible enough yet strong enough to support the people,
plants, and animals within our lands?
Weighing the need for governmental assistance with the need for
landowner independence can be a difficult thing to do. Either way,
most working landscapes need to incorporate both to survive.
do you think?
What should the government's role be in a working landscape?
the Loess Hills Become a National Park?
you ever visited a national parkmaybe the Grand Canyon or
Mammoth Caves? These publicly owned areas are certainly unique and
Involvement in the Loess Hills
Loess Hills of western Iowa have rare plants and animals, and fragile
ecosystems. They are a national treasure. And one that is 95% privately
to Market Links
and farmers tackle soil loss
Soil erosion contributes to nutrient runoff and water pollution.
While researchers work to help farmers understand their contribution,
many in the fields are already doing their part.
accused of not doing enough to clean up waterways
From the great lakes ... To america's major waterways ... The nation
is ignoring a key provision of the clean water act.
NewsHour Online Links
What is the Bush
Administration's response to the environment? Four
experts tell it as they see it.
Can forests be managed through fire? Learn
why fires were so bad in 2001 and why fires are probably here to
This association is made up of property owners or renters of residential
in a housing association in Reston, Virginia. The RA is "responsible
for maintenance and environmental protection of 1,100 acres of open
space; educational and recreational programming; the administration
of the covenants related to the design and maintenance of property
in Reston; and issues which promote the peace, health, comfort,
safety and general welfare of its members." This link takes
you to the page of covenants that govern single family residences.
Included are regulations on fences, dog houses, security lighting,
handicap accessibility, and much more. You'll need Adobe
Acrobat Reader to view the covenants.
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
This organization works to protect, preserve, and enhance Iowa's
natural resources. One of the ways it accomplishes these goals is
through conservation easements. This link takes you to a list of
options available to landowners who wish to protect their land
for future generations.
"'Crown Jewels' of U.S. Parks Endangered." What is allowed
in the National Park Service system? Are all parks given the same
treatment? This article explores issues surrounding the parks.
Park Conservation Association
This organization lists ten parks in the U.S. that are endangered.
Find out why.