Supreme Court May Decide Access on Great Lakes Beaches
The U.S. Supreme Court may hear an Indiana case on exactly who should have access to Great Lakes beaches. The case, BOBBIE GUNDERSON, V. STATE OF lNDIANA, hopes to settle the question of legally defining the Ordinary High Water Mark on the inland Great Lakes. If SCOTUS takes the case, it could have a far-reaching impact over the entire Great Lakes region.
Get Off My Sand!
The case started in Indiana where in 2012, Bobbie and Donald Gunderson filed suit against the Town of Long Beach for allowing the public to use their beachfront property. The Gunderson’s held the position which they said their property extended to the water’s edge. In 2018 the Indiana Supreme Court disagreed and said their property only came to where the high-water mark usually hits the beach. Indiana’s position is that the state holds beach in trust for public use. Now the case is in front of the highest court of the land and the entire Great Lakes tourism industry is holding their collective breath.
Michigan stands to be impacted the most if the Supreme Court takes the case and agrees with the Plaintiffs. With over 3,200 miles of shoreline, Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline in the US and the second longest coastline next to Alaska. In 2014 tourist visitors to Michigan spent $22.8 billion, much of that along the state’s shoreline. Mostly on or near a Michigan beach.
Shoreline Cottage Owners Impacted
Michigan’s Tourism Industry Threatened
There is high potential that the US Supreme Court’s ruling on this case may negate the Michigan Supreme Court ruling on this issue. In 2005, Michigan ruled on Glass v Goeckel, which held that the public had the right to walk along the shores of Michigan’s Great Lakes shoreline on land below the ordinary high-water mark. This land is owned by the state and considered part of the lake bottom lands that are held in trust for citizens.
Many Want the Case Thrown Out
If the Supreme Court rules against the public trust doctrine for Great Lakes shoreline, Michigan Resorts, Hotels, and Cottage owners that seasonally rent out their beachfront homes may be forced to tell their clients to stay put and not walk the beach. Beachfront owners may
The ramifications are huge and we will be watching the case closely.
- The Problem With Beach Easements
- Lame Duck Politicians Want to Make It Easy to Steal Water
- Beach Use – Shoreline Owners Cannot Prevent Use
- Mackinac Center for Public Policy