Beach Access Problems

The Press Herald has an article about going disputes over access to beaches thoughout the State. The problem is not just on the coastal ocean beaches, but on the lakes and rivers throughout the State. The issues that many landowners face are vague or even inconsistent deeds in their chain of title, as well as a history of case law that often provides vastly different results based on seemingly minor factual differences.

In Maine and Massachusetts, however, oceanfront owners generally own the shore all the way to the low-tide mark, including the beach, rocks and seaweed.

The public does have some limited rights to use private lands between the tides, but only for “fishing, fowling and navigation,” according to the Colonial-era ordinance.

The Moody Beach case, a landmark 4-3 decision by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in 1989, held that the public does not have recreation rights on private tidelands.

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