[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ MI Supreme Court protects beach walking

Enviro-Mich message from "Pam Burt" <pb@wabpc.com>

Fellow Enviro-Michers,

At a time when many things in our world seem to be upside-down, the Michigan Supreme Court just turned one important part right-side-up.

In their ruling in Glass v Goeckel last Friday, all seven Justices agreed that the Public Trust Doctrine protects the public?s right to walk our Great Lakes shores.  While two Justices (Young and Markman) argued for limiting beach walking to the wet sand area, the majority Opinion written by Justice Corrigan (joined by Chief Justice Taylor and Justices Cavanagh, Weaver, and Kelly) held that the public has the right to walk the shores of the Great Lakes up to the ordinary high water mark.

In reversing the Court of Appeals decision granting lakefront owners exclusive possession of the shores, the Justices waded through a huge body of arcane law to arrive at a well-articulated decision which remains true to a legal doctrine dating back to the early Romans.  Under that law, certain natural resources, including the waters, bottomlands, and shores of our Great Lakes, are too important and valuable to the public to ever be the subject of purely private ownership and control.

We owe these Justices our gratitude and respect for sending the clear signal that the Public Trust Doctrine is alive and well in the State of Michigan.

To read the Opinion, go to:

In the three days since the Opinion was released, phone calls and emails have poured in from citizens all across our two Peninsulas, expressing heartfelt gratitude for the Court?s protection of our cherished right to walk the Great Lakes shores.

For those here who are all too familiar with how sadly our Lakes are ailing, with invasive species wreaking havoc in the ecosystem, and billions of dollars needed for clean-up efforts, take heart that the public can walk the shores to appreciate where their tax dollars are being spent.

Lastly, for those of you who work so hard each day to protect these vast freshwater seas, you owe yourself a walk on the beach to remind yourself of the ineffable splendor of your cause.

Pamela Burt
Attorney for Joan Glass

=============================================================ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at

Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info enviro-mich"