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Maine Superior Court rules against attorney general to limit public beach access in intertidal zone

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

A Superior Court justice has ruled against Maine's attorney general and others in a case seeking to establish public access rights to the intertidal zone on Maine beaches.

Currently, beachfront property owners' rights extend to the low tide line. State Attorney General Aaron Frey asked the court to grant the public unfettered rights to walk along the intertidal zone on Maine beaches.

Another motion from members of the public asked the court to modernize allowable uses of the intertidal zone, which current law lists as "fishing, fowling, and navigation."

Attorney Benjamin Ford, who represents the plaintiffs, says he's not surprised by the decision and will appeal to the Supreme Judicial Court.

"The longer a law stays on the books, the harder it is to change course," he says. "We're trying to overrule a decision from 1989, which is 30 years ago, and that's not always easy."

Ford says Maine and Massachusetts are the only two states in which the intertidal zone is not considered public land.