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Beach access lawsuit heading to Maine Supreme Court

A sign describing privacy restrictions along Moody Beach.
Patty Wight
Maine Public
A sign describing privacy restrictions along Moody Beach.

The legal fight over who owns Maine's intertidal beaches is heading to the state's supreme court.

A group of coastal residents and local businesses are appealing a lower court's ruling in a case over who owns and can access intertidal beach property.

The group seeks to overturn a 1989 decision by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which says that private land ownership extends to the low tidal point. The appeal asks the court to declare that the state owns the intertidal lands.

It also asks the Law Court to rule that landowners cannot interfere with public use and that the public can engage in ocean-related activities in the intertidal zone, including the harvesting of seaweed.

The suit emanates from Moody Beach in Wells, where private beachfront property owners have clashed with other residents over beach access. Just last week, town officials made plans to form a local working group to seek a compromise on the issue.

Kaitlyn Budion is Maine Public’s Bangor correspondent, joining the reporting team after several years working in print journalism.