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Environmental Essay Contest Explores Relationship between Public Interest and Private Ownership

Potomac River Assn., Center for Study of Democracy Are Sponsors
Sept. 1, 2010
Press Release #10-136

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The emotional relationship between the rights of waterfront homeowners, neighbors, environmentalists, and regulators is the focus of the first annual writing competition for the Jansson Prize for Environmental Writing. Sponsored by the Potomac River Association (PRA) and the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, the prize will go to the best essay on this inherent tug-of-war between property rights and the state’s critical areas regulations. For details, see http://potomacriverassociation.org, www.smcm.edu/democracy/ , or call 301-769-3840.

“At the heart of the environmental movement is the belief that we are obligated to protect natural resources for future generations,” said PRA president Robert Elwood. “This belief often comes into conflict with the belief that property rights are absolute, that a ‘man’s home is his castle.’ These two viewpoints frequently collide over the application of Maryland’s environmental regulation at the water's edge, and this essay contest will help examine the meaning and limits of private property ownership.”

The prize is named for Holger and Mary Jansson and their son, Eric, lifelong advocates of the environmental and cultural heritage of Southern Maryland. The contest is open to all residents of Calvert, Charles, St. Mary’s, and Anne Arundel counties. First prize is $500, the runner-up gets $150. Submissions of between 2,000 and 5,000 words must be postmarked by Dec. 1, 2010. A panel of judges will be selected from the PRA, the CSD, and the college. Property rights can be examined from several perspectives, including cultural, legal, historical, and political.

The PRA is one of the oldest environmental organizations in the country; the college’s Center for the Study of Democracy, a joint initiative of St. Mary’s College and Historic St. Mary’s City, explores issues associated with democracy and liberty.

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