Where does the private property end and the public waters begin concerning waterfront property?

UPDATED: Sep 19, 2011

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Where does the private property end and the public waters begin concerning waterfront property?

There is a private beach club near me. I am concerned about the water side of the mean high tide. Am I allowed to be in that area?

Asked on September 19, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Rhode Island


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

In most states in this country under the "reservation clause" the consitutions of each state, the state is deemed to have access (as well as its citizens) over "navigable water ways" as a form of a "public easement".

Typically most states define the area for access by the public in such a situation as up to the "mean high tide line." This term is the particular area established usually by the Army Corp. of Engineers after extensive data analysis as to the mean tide line.

To answer your question specifically, the public may have access over a person's private land under the reservation clause of a particular state's constitution under the public easement doctrine as discussed above.

Good question.

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