White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Friday, May 22, 2015

Preserving the Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

I have always been a person who thought that beaches should be accessible to the public.  So, when I bought my current house and learned that the title included "deeded beach rights," I was perplexed but curious. A long story short - in the 1640's the Massachusetts Bay Colony issued land titles that included ownership in some cases to the LOW water mark rather than the HIGH water mark.  This effectively created "private" beaches.  Many of those titles are still in force. So it's true that some folks do legally own the beach here.

As a practical matter and apparently a matter of law (though I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice), the public has some rights regarding "fishing, fowling, or navigation" in the intertidal areas (between high and low tides) even on private beaches.  Confused? me, too. Here's a link if you want to read the details from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Affairs.

In any case, the coastal bluffs in southeast Massachusetts are particularly fragile and many stone revetments and jetties have been constructed over the years to reduce the "damage" caused by ferocious winter storms. I use the term "damage" loosely because truly it is just the natural cycle of wind, wave, sand, erosion that humans attempt to thwart. I appreciate the effort of private owners and beach associations to preserve the wonders of a sandy shoreline as well as protecting the valuable land and homes that sit atop the coastal bluffs.  It is not inexpensive to contract heavy equipment and heavy equipment operators to painstakingly, rock by rock, repair these walls.

Sometimes, I'd rather just walk along the road so I don't have to think about all this complex ownership and trespass stuff. Enjoying the beauty is enough.

Note: all images made with my cellphone.

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