The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

A Day at the Beach (Lecture)

Posted by | July 24, 2014

John Duff provides an overview of legal cases pertaining to Maine beach accessThe weather on July 23 was warm and muggy — a perfect day for a swim at the shore. But rather than head to one of the many lovely sand beaches of York County, some 90 people packed Mather Auditorium to learn about legal issues surrounding ownership, use, and access to the shore.

Attendees heard lively presentations from two attorneys who have extensive knowledge of the subject. John Duff, a law professor and attorney, led with an informative (and sometimes humorous) analysis and explanation of all of the court cases since Moody that have affected use and ownership of Maine's shoreline.

Stephanie Showalter Otts describes beach access laws in other statesStephanie Showalter Otts, director of the National Sea Grant Law Center, focused on the laws, customs, and cases of several other states (including California, Oregon, New Jersey, and Florida) that affect shoreline ownership and use. While Maine’s laws and court cases are complicated, Stephanie revealed that other states have their own sets of problems and complexities.

The Wells Reserve and Maine Sea Grant continue the series on August 28 with the private landowner perspective. Sidney “Pete” Thaxter and Ben Leoni from the Portland law firm of Curtis Thaxter will be here. Thaxter was the lead attorney in the Moody Beach and Goose Rocks Beach cases.

The series concludes with an all-star panel on October 2 at the University of Maine School of Law. Details TBA.

From Moody to Goose Rocks: Public Access and Private Ownership of Maine’s Shoreline marks the 25th anniversary of what has become known as the “Moody Beach Decision,” a court case decided in 1989 that is viewed by some to this day as a victory for landowners and defeat for public access advocates.

Attorney and professor John Duff addresses the audience gathered to learn about beach ownership and public access in Maine

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