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Property Rights Foundation of America®
Founded 1994

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Center for Private Conservation

Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow and CPC President, RJ Smith is an integral part to the private conservation and property rights movement. Over the years, he has produced extensive research on wildlife and endangered species; property and private land stewardship, and has written and published noteworthy examples of private conservation and stewardship on private lands all across the country. He continues to work in conjunction with CEI and CPC to advance the awareness of the benefits of private solutions to conserving natural resources in America and around the world.

The purpose of the Center for Private Conservation ( is to demonstrate that free-enterprise and private property rights can be harnessed to create private solutions to environmental problems. By using examples of successful private conservation efforts, CPC created a new paradigm for protection of natural resources around the world. Individuals can have a much greater positive impact on the environment than a bureaucrat based in Washington, DC or The Hague.

CPC seeks to expand the knowledge and information base surrounding the ability to advance environmental objectives privately, using markets and private property rights rather than government control or influence. We research and document case studies of successful private efforts to conserve resources and ecologically sensitive lands, and analyze how various legal and social institutions can assist or hinder the ability of private individuals and communities to advance environmental ends. We then publicize our findings, through publications, speeches, roundtables, and partnerships with interested organizations. CPC focuses on conservation issues worldwide.

Our studies fall into two general categories: those that document particular case studies of private conservation and those that analyze how various legal rules and institutional arrangements can facilitate or frustrate private stewardship. Case studies include research of the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Pennsylvania, the Viansa Winery Wetlands in Sonoma, California, and Natural Bridge of Virginia. A shortened version of the Natural Bridge case study is currently available to travelers and tourists at all the state Visitor's Centers.

Part of CPC's ongoing efforts to popularize our approach is Private Conservation Day. An event created by CPC and celebrated in conjunction (either on or around) Thomas Jefferson's birthday each year, CPC hosts a reception commemorating the American paradigm for private conservation demonstrated by Jefferson and his purchase of the Natural Bridge of Virginia. CPC hosts luminaries of the conservation world, such as the former head of CITES, the international body dedicated to the recovery of endangered species, and selects one individual as "Private Conservationist of the Year."

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