Abstract: The Public Trust Doctrine (PTD or the Doctrine) can be traced back in time as far as the Roman Empire, but it fl ourished into the modern conception in pre-Colonial England. The Doctrine can apply to any sovereign who holds land for the benefi t of the people. This article defi nes and explores the growth and development of the PTD in the United States — fi rst from the perspective of the federal government as sovereign. The article next turns to the individual state governments and explores the evolution of the Doctrine, comparing the expansion and growth among the states. Finally, the article overviews the use of the PTD intra-nationally and compares the development of the Doctrine outside of the United States. The presence of the Doctrine worldwide largely refl ects the broad reach of English colonialism. The article concludes by evaluating the potential benefi ts and drawbacks of the theoretical expansion of the PTD.
Keywords: public trust doctrine; property law; water; navigable waterways; submerged and adjacent lands; private use of public land; public access; shoreline; comparative law; common law
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