Private Waterfront Landowner
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Coastal Access Toolkit
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Common Law & Statutes
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Land Ownership Trusts

Who can own access rights?

Individuals and private user groups, federal, state and local governments, and land trusts can all own access rights. Ownership can also be held in trust by governments acting as trustees for the public at large (the public trust doctrine) or land trusts acting as trustees for the intents of the person who donated the land.

What is traditional land ownership?

Traditional land ownership included ownership of the full title, the right to eject (keep out trespassers), the right to transfer (sell or give the land way). Ownership need not be absolute; it can be split, such as by an easements or a right of way.

What is property owned in trust?

Property owned in trust consists of the property itself, the trustee or holder of the property (who will often be the manager of the property), and the beneficiary of the trust, or the person or organization who receives any benefits from the property. Land trusts – thought often set up as private charitable organizations rather than actual trusts – assist landowners in conserving their land. Land trusts can act as trustees or whole owners of property.

What is a public trust?

A public trust consists of the same three parts as a regular trust: the trust property (or the public’s right to that property), the trustee (the state), and the beneficiary of the trust (the public). The public trust doctrine is a legal concept that applies a public trust ownership to lands that have traditionally been public, such as submerged tidal lands. Because the state owns such land in trust, it cannot give the land to private owners.