Indiana Supreme Court: Lake Michigan shoreline open to all

The Indiana Supreme Court has ruled in a landmark decision that Lake Michigan's shoreline is open to all

Posted: Feb 15, 2018 3:05 PM
Updated: Feb 15, 2018 4:55 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Supreme Court has ruled in a landmark decision that Lake Michigan's shoreline is open to all, and adjacent property owners can't exercise exclusive control of the beach between their homes and the water.

The 4-0 ruling Wednesday sets the ordinary high water mark as the boundary between the state-owned land under Lake Michigan and the interests of private property owners, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported. The high water mark is defined as the line on the shore created by the fluctuations of water.

The ruling settled a longstanding dispute with Don and Bobbie Gunderson, who alleged the deed to their lake-adjacent property showed it extending to the water's edge, regardless of where the water's edge is at any given time. Their attorney argued that landowners have the right to limit who uses the beaches abutting their properties.

Justice Mark Massa said the land extending from that line and continuing into and under the water of Lake Michigan was granted to Indiana at statehood, and has continuously been held in trust for residents since 1816. Individuals are entitled to access the water for navigation, commerce or fishing.

The high court also ruled that at a minimum, walking on the beach is a protected public use. But the justices also said it's up to the General Assembly to decide whether to enact "any enlargement of public rights on the beaches of Lake Michigan."

The ruling could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Reported Deaths: 15343
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1287051987
Lake634321097
Allen53759760
Hamilton43980448
St. Joseph42010590
Elkhart33651491
Vanderburgh30486449
Tippecanoe26872250
Johnson23685417
Hendricks22354341
Porter21799347
Clark17493231
Madison17439384
Vigo16209284
Monroe14515191
LaPorte14350239
Delaware14134222
Howard13921273
Kosciusko11448135
Hancock10886166
Warrick10715177
Bartholomew10589169
Floyd10471206
Wayne10020226
Grant9165204
Morgan8895160
Boone8417111
Dubois7748123
Dearborn764990
Henry7648130
Noble7435101
Marshall7384128
Cass7209117
Lawrence6999153
Shelby6616111
Jackson659186
Gibson6177107
Harrison606286
Huntington603195
Montgomery5830105
DeKalb578391
Knox5506104
Miami545788
Putnam540568
Clinton535965
Whitley526553
Steuben499768
Wabash486292
Jasper481860
Jefferson472892
Ripley456077
Adams445568
Daviess4209108
Scott407965
White392957
Clay392857
Greene390592
Wells388784
Decatur385996
Fayette377278
Posey361541
Jennings354356
Washington333747
LaGrange323575
Spencer319536
Fountain317955
Randolph314889
Sullivan308449
Owen284863
Starke281464
Fulton280054
Orange276859
Jay256338
Perry252552
Carroll244929
Franklin240538
Rush235630
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Parke221020
Tipton210555
Pike209539
Blackford169634
Pulaski165551
Crawford146718
Newton145245
Benton143516
Brown135546
Martin129317
Switzerland126210
Warren115516
Union97711
Ohio80111
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