Most of us can’t afford to own beachfront property, but in principle we all have the right to walk along some portion of the beach in virtually every U.S. state with a coast. As University of Florida law professor Thomas Ankersen explains, property owners’ control typically stops at the high tide line.

In practice, though, owners often want to keep the public off their property, and this can lead to legal battles. Or they may install sea walls to reduce erosion, blocking public access in the process. As rising seas eat away at beaches, it’s small wonder that the water’s edge has become a hotly contested space.

Also today:

  • Flaws in monitoring international bioweapons research
  • The Israeli right’s productive relationship with American evangelicals
  • The discovery that put the hunt for exoplanets into high gear

  • Jennifer Weeks

    Senior Environment + Energy Editor

    If you want to stroll the shoreline, know your rights. Normanack/Flickr

    Who owns the beach? It depends on state law and tide lines

    Thomas Ankersen, University of Florida

    In principle, some portion of the shoreline is public land along virtually all US coasts. But these can sometimes overlap with private property interests, creating confusion and conflict.

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      Today’s graphic

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