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Public lands are among the few bipartisan issues a historical retelling shows

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Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

A book by a former solicitor under President Bill Clinton tells the story of how the U.S. government came to own a third of the nation's land — areas like Yosemite and Yellowstone that are maintained for recreation, education and conservation.

The United States has more than 600 million acres of public land, and that goes well beyond the National Parks System. The history of our public lands and the policy that shapes them goes back to the founding of the nation.

Former solicitor for the U.S. Department of Interior and emeritus professor at the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco John Leshy used decades of experience working with public lands to write a comprehensive history, Our Common Ground: A History of America's Public Lands.

During his visit to the University of Iowa College of Law, Leshy spoke with Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe about his new book and the part a few Iowans played in protecting America's natural resources. His visit is part of the university's Hubbell Environmental Law Initiative.


  • John Leshy, professor emeritus, University of California College of Law in San Francisco
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Dani Gehr is a producer for River to River and Talk of Iowa. Dani came to Iowa from her hometown in the northwest suburbs of Chicago to attend Iowa State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism, international studies and French. Before coming to IPR, Dani covered local government in Story County for the Ames Tribune and Des Moines Register.