A panel of experts will share diverse perspectives on public access and private ownership of Maine’s shoreline in a program being held at the University of Maine School of Law in Portland on October 2 at 5:30pm. The six presenters have more than a century of combined legal and policy experience on this controversial issue.
The 1989 Moody Beach decision, this year’s Goose Rocks decision, and other cases over the past quarter century have affected private property owners’ rights and the public’s ability to use Maine’s intertidal lands and dry sandy beaches.
After a quarter century of legal wrangling, confusion and controversy remain. Who is a legitimate visitor to a beach and who is a trespasser? Why can clammers and scuba divers use private intertidal lands while a sunbather sometimes cannot? Why would one beachfront property owner have lesser rights to control public use than another?
“We want to help people make sense of the laws surrounding Maine’s intertidal zone,” said Paul Dest, director the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, who is coordinating the event with the Maine Sea Grant College Program and the Center for Oceans and Coastal Law of the University of Maine School of Law.
Professor Orlando Delogu and attorney Pete Thaxter will lay out their theories on existing laws and pertinent court cases. Thaxter will make the case that upland owners abutting intertidal land own to the low water mark, subject only to a public easement permitting “fishing, fowling, and navigation.” Delogu will argue that public use rights in intertidal lands are much broader—that the Colonial Ordinance is not as encompassing as it is claimed to be, that public trust rights remain, and that public ownership of most intertidal lands have never been lost.
Attorneys Durward Parkinson, Amy Tchao, and Ben Leoni, along with Maine Coast Heritage Trust president Tim Glidden, will offer their perspectives on the issues while focusing on alternatives to litigation. They will address issues that help advance unresolved questions in Maine, such as: Can the public gain a broader range of use rights by prescription? Can negotiated arrangements protect upland owner interests while broadening public use rights? How are practical problems like beach maintenance and parking addressed?
A question-and-answer session following the presentations will be moderated by professor John Duff.
The program will be held in the Moot Court Room at the University of Maine School of Law, 246 Deering Ave., Portland. Registration is required at 207-646-1555 or email@example.com. Free-will donations will be accepted. For more information on the program and presenters, please visit wellsreserve.org/beach.