Joined: 07 Dec 2005
Location: West Valley City, Utah
|Posted: Sun Mar 09, 2008 10:18 pm Post subject: Public Lands Definition
|There is a common misunderstanding that public lands are lands that are for the use of the public. However, this is not the case. In fact, public lands are "Land whose control and title rests with the government."(1) The government is free to regulate the use of such land however it sees fit. This includes delegating management of certain functions, areas, and/or features to third parties.
Naturally, the above applies to caves that are located on public land. The government has the authority to do things such as refuse access, gate, and require permits for caves on public lands. They also have the authority to delegate all management of such caves to a third party.
It is also worth noting that as a result of the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act (FCRPA)(2), the Federal government has an obligation not to reveal the locations of significant caves on its land. This is because public knowledge of cave locations contributes significantly to their destruction.
Therefore, the following observations are in order:
- The fact that a cave is located on public land does not imply any sort of "rights" for the public.
- There is no guaranteed access to caves on public lands.
- The government may delegate the management of a cave to a third party. In this case, a number of bureaucratic obstacles may be administered by someone other than the government.
- Publishing the location of caves that are on public lands does not constitute a public service. Rather, it thwarts the purpose of the FCRPA and facilitates the destruction of such caves.