not ALL land is owned by somebody in the USA

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Posted by Joel S on December 08, 2004 at 11:36:22 from user joels.

In Reply to: Re: owner gave permission to camp here? posted by James L. McDowell on December 06, 2004 at 22:30:38:

Since this thread is enjoying being legalistic and nit-picky, I will add that in my adopted state of Rhode Island not all land is owned by somebody. In a string of legal precedents extending back to charters given the colony by Cromwell and by Charles II, all coastal land below the average high tide mark belongs to the public. The original intent was to ensure that fishermen, shellfishmen, farmers gathering seaweed to fertilize their fields, fowlers, etc could use the coastal resources. Now sometimes getting access to this public land is difficult. Sometimes that depends on public rights of way over private land. But once you get to the high-water line, you can walk on any wet sand you like. Noone is allowed to own the beach. We are the smallest of the fifty states ... smaller than most counties and smaller than many cities, yet we have about 400 miles of coastline, nearly all of which is accessible to the public (thanks to this law). This is not the case in our neighboring states. Many New England states have public walks (cliff walks, marginal ways, etc) that skirt the coastline and even the robber barons of the 1890's ... the Vanderbuilts, Rockefellers, Astors, etc, had to allow anyone who wished to walk along the back sections of the lawns of their great mansions ... and still have to do so today.

I will also take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the remarkable system of walkways available to the public (on private lands) that we saw throughout England. Crossing the open fields with their flocks, each with their elaborate system of "kissing gates" was a wonderful treat that we enjoyed many times on our visit to the UK. There is nothing like it that I have yet encountered here in the states.

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Courtesy of Environmental Science, Lancaster