Adverse Possession and Conversation: Expanding Traditional Notions of Use and Possession

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At common law, very minimal actions were needed to establish the 'exclusive possession' necessary to acquire land by adverse possession when the land was 'wild' or undeveloped. This minimal burden to adversely possess wild lands, which is still the general rule today, stands in contrast to the much higher standard necessary to adversely possess developed lands. This article explores why the lesser standard for adverse possession of wild lands remains a threat to many of the millions of acres of land in this country that are still undeveloped. This article then proposes that courts modernize the adverse possession doctrine to expand traditional notions of use and possession in the context of wild lands to reflect the growing need for conservation in today's world.


Work published when author not on Michigan Law faculty.