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Beach-walkers rejoice: Lake Michigan shoreline in Indiana open to all

This landmark decision rules that adjacent property owners can't exercise exclusive control of the beach between their homes and the water.
Lake Michigan

Beach-walkers have a reason to celebrate.

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 (Northwest Indiana) Times reports that 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 high water mark is defined as the line on the shore created by the fluctuations of water.

The same issue has been a hot topic in Michigan. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that walking Great Lakes shoreline in front of a private property is legal. Beachfront owners had argued that they own all the land to the water and could, if they chose, chase off anyone who set foot there.

In Indiana, Justice Mark Massa says 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.

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

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