This Land Is Our Land by Ken Ilgunas
How We Lost the Right to Roam and How to Take It Back

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Earnest, thoughtful, and alarming in places—an optimistic work that urges America toward a profound cultural shift.


Private property is everywhere. Almost anywhere you walk in the United States, you will spot “No Trespassing” and “Private Property” signs on trees and fence posts. In America, there are more than a billion acres of grassland pasture, cropland, and forest, and miles and miles of coastlines that are mostly closed off to the public. Meanwhile, America’s public lands are threatened by extremist groups and right-wing think tanks who call for our public lands to be sold to the highest bidder and closed off to everyone else. If these groups get their way, public property may become private, precious green spaces may be developed, and the common good may be sacrificed for the benefit of the wealthy few.

Ken Ilgunas, lifelong traveler, hitchhiker, and roamer, takes readers back to the nineteenth century, when Americans were allowed to journey undisturbed across the country. Today, though, America finds itself as an outlier in the Western world as a number of European countries have created sophisticated legal systems that protect landowners and give citizens generous roaming rights to their countries' green spaces.
Inspired by the United States' history of roaming, and taking guidance from present-day Europe, Ilgunas calls into question our entrenched understanding of private property and provocatively proposes something unheard of: opening up American private property for public recreation. He imagines a future in which folks everywhere will have the right to walk safely, explore freely, and roam boldly—from California to the New York island, from the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters.

About Ken Ilgunas

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Ken Ilgunas has worked as an elementary school tutor, an Alaskan tour guide, and a backcountry ranger at the Gates of the Arctic National Park. He’s hitchhiked 10,000 miles across North America and paddled 1,000 miles across Ontario, Canada, in a birch bark canoe. Ilgunas has a B.A. from SUNY Buffalo in history and English, and an M.A. in liberal studies from Duke University. He is the author of the travel memoir Walden on Wheels, He currently lives in Benedict, Nebraska.

Author Residence: Benedict, Nebraska

Author Hometown: Niagra Falls, NY Author Image 1
Published April 10, 2018 by Plume. 288 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Political & Social Sciences, Nature & Wildlife, Travel, Science & Math. Non-fiction
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on Feb 06 2018

Earnest, thoughtful, and alarming in places—an optimistic work that urges America toward a profound cultural shift.

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