Not to argue but I would like to say we had very different experiences in Maine. A year and a half ago I took Chip Forelliís (cover article Lenswork #64) landscape workshop at the ME Photo Workshops. That week my wife stayed with me at the school and commuted six miles to a water color workshop in Rockland. The week prior my wife and I rented a cottage on a rock overhanging the water in Acadia National Park. The problem may simply be the word ďsandyĒ. We didnít see a lot of sandy beaches because it is mostly volcanic rock, some broken into heavy gravel, but little open sand.
Acadia National Park has a 27 mile loop road showing off the better parts of 35,000 acres, 140 miles of trails. It is most of an island, lotta shore line, mostly rocks. The public shore is ragged, rocky cuts and peninsulas. Each day of the workshop we went to a different public shore within an hourís drive (N,S, and East) from Rockport. Most had a lighthouse, were dramatic scenery, but little sand. They put those light houses there to draw your attention to the rocks. At two parks I remember we had to pay a buck or two to get in, but that was how they paid for the maintenance. Every place was beautifully maintained and one had a short sandy beach.
During any time not at school we prowled the shore line, leaving the car at public spots and walking the shore line. If they were trying to stop me I was easily seen because as you know I carry my 8x10 in a baby jogger. I really think the scenic is far more accessible than you encountered.
Interesting. Puerto Rico has laws similar to Oregon's. Hotel and resort developers might get a permit to build with their own beach access for guests, but still they must also provide public access to the same beaches. It's been controversial at times, but the public access rights have prevailed.
Originally Posted by kthalmann
Originally Posted by jp80874
Acadia National Park has a lot of publically accessible beach. More than any other place in Maine. You happened to be in the right place, Unfortuntely, most of the Maine coast is not as accesible as the shoreline in Acadia.
Yes, the article I posted said "less than 40 miles of sandy beach", however the 3% figure would equate to about 2.5 times that much. So, that might account for the difference between publically accessible sandy beaches and publically accessible rocky beaches. To be honest, I don't have a reference for the 3% figure. It is from memory from a brochure I read while we were visiting Maine. The brochure was actually boasting that nearly 3% of Maine's scenic coastline was open to public recreation. Again, this figure may not be 100% accurate as it is from memory. I just remember being stunned at the time that so little of that rugged, beautiful coast was open to public recretional access.
And, my personal experience proably left an even bigger impression. Like you, we visited Acadia Naitonal Park and I enjoyed photographing there as it was one of the few places with miles of pubically accesible beaches (mostly rocky there, but very scenic). As we drove up and down Hwy 1, we took several jaunts off the highway in an attempt to acces the coast. Other than a few small areas around a couple lighthouses, we were constantly turned back by "Private Property - No Beach Access" and "No Trespassing" signs. Coming from Oregon, this concept was completely foreign to me and left a big impression.
Keep in mind, that even without access to much of the coast, Maine, with countless small coastal villages and harbors, Acadia National Park, etc. is still a very worthwhile photo destination.
And we shouldn't be too hard on Maine. The 1647 Colonial Ordinance that still prevents public access to the vast majority of Maine's coast became law when Maine was still part of the Massachusetts Colony and predates Maine statehood by 173 years As I mentioned above, the Maine legislature tried to change this situation in 1986, but was overruled by the courts. When you have 339 years of private beach ownership, any legislation is bound to be challenged in court by one or more of those property owners who want to keep their private beaches private.
The historical situation is much different in Oregon than in Maine. Although Oregon only lagged Maine in statehood by 39 years, settlement of the Oregon territory by Euro-americans lagged coastal New England by a couple hundred years. Prior to the bulding of roads and bridges, long stretches of beach along the Oregon coast were the only practical transportation corridors in many coastal areas. These routes were first used by horses and wagons and later automobiles. Thus, establishing a public-right-of-way. In 1911, a forward thinking politician named Oswald West decided it would be best to formalize and preserve this public right-of-way for future generations for both transportation and recreation access. He ran for governor and won based on his promise to prevent private ownership and preserve public access to ALL of Oregon's coast. He won the election and in 1913 signed a law declaring the entire Oregon coast from the Columbia River to the California border a public highway.
There are still a several places on the Oregon coast where you can drive on the beach, but most of the coast is either not physically accessible to automobiles, or designated for hikers, bikers and horseback riders only. The Oregon Coast Trail starts at the mouth of the Columbia and proceeds south all the way to California. Other than a few places where you must go inland to cross rivers or circumnavigate natural bays, it follows the beach for over 300 miles.
In any case, it is the very different histories of the two states that has lead to completely opposite laws regarding public recreational access. In Maine, private ownership extends all the way to the low tide mark. In Oregon, not only is the entire intertidal zone open to public access, so is the "dry sands" area below the natural vegetation line. In Oregon, the beach belongs to everyone.
As indeed under English common law. The 'foreshore' between high and low tide is, if I recall my 1973 LL.B. aright, common land.
Originally Posted by kthalmann