Maine's Beaches Are Public Property: The Bell Cases Must Be Reexamined
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Recent Maine cases (the 1986, 1989 Bell cases) have held that the public's use of Maine's beaches and intertidal lands is limited to activities ("fishing, fowling, and navigation") permitted by a Massachusetts Colonial Ordinance adopted in 1647. Further, courts in these two states have held that the Ordinance ceded title to all intertidal lands in these states to adjacent upland property owners. Modern uses of these lands for recreational activities and such activities as seaweed harvesting are precluded. Massachusetts and Maine are the only coastal states in the U.S. that take this extreme position. These views are inconsistent with early Roman law, English common law (followed in most states), U. S. Supreme Court cases, Massachusetts and Maine legislative enactments, the U.S. Constitution's "equal footing" doctrine, and common sense. The book "Maine's Beaches Are Public Property: The Bell Cases Must be Reexamined" argues that these judicial errors can and should be corrected. See website mainesbeachesarepublicproperty.com
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