Document Type


Publication Date


First Page




Source Publication Abbreviation

Vt. J. Envtl. L.


In this article, the authors examine the various measures implemented by state and local governments to enhance public access to and use of government-owned tidelands, streambeds, and lake shores and how, although not necessarily titled as such, many of these measures result, without payment of compensation, in an easement allowing public access to and use of private waterfront property.

Section I describes the rights of riparian property owners and the right of the public to use government-owned shores and tidelands, followed by a general overview of various state legislative and judicial responses designed to address the conflicts that arise when these competing interests collide. The section then focuses on the legislative and judicial developments in two geographically and culturally distinct jurisdictions.

Section II discusses the laws of Florida. Section III discusses the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Stop the Beach Renourishment v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Section IV analyzes the laws of Montana, which strongly protect the public's right to recreate on all waters located within its boundaries and the effect of those laws on private property rights.

Section V addresses the creative public access laws of Hawaii and Texas. Finally, in Section VI, the authors conclude with an assessment of the impact of the Stop the Beach Renourishment case on state efforts to provide access to government-owned waters, tidelands, and shores.