Enter Sandman: The Viability of Environmental Personhood to US Soil Conservation Efforts

Thomas E. Johnson · 20 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. 259


The US agricultural system relies on healthy soil for economic and environmental stability. The federal government established soil conservation efforts following the Dust Bowl, and state and local entities later developed legal tools to supplement soil conservation. These efforts, however, are insufficient to protect the nation’s soil in the face of a changing climate. Conservation techniques are available that could substantially mitigate the effects of climate change, but the federal government lacks the tools to encourage their uniform adoption. The rigidity of prior state efforts, moreover, has disabled some landowners from adapting conservation lands to modern challenges. This Note recommends that US conservationists utilize environmental personhood—a legal tool already adopted by other nations—to implement and enforce new conservation techniques that could both mitigate climate change and protect the nation’s soil from its adverse effects.