January 20, 2020

Indiana: Lake Michigan Shoreline is Held in the Public Trust

Contact: Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager

On January 13, Senator Susan Glick introduced Senate Bill 325. This bill would ensure that the public has access to the Lake Michigan shore line, one of the Hoosier state’s most precious resources. This bill is consistent with the Indiana Supreme Court’s 2018 finding in Gunderson v. State, which held that absent an authorized legislative conveyance, before February 14, 2018 the state has title up to the ordinary high watermark along the lakeshore of Lake Michigan. This bill would reaffirm that the portion of Lake Michigan that falls within Indiana’s boundary is owned by the state to be held in trust for the use and enjoyment of all citizens of Indiana. It also provides that a landowner whose property borders Lake Michigan does not have the exclusive right to use the water or land below the ordinary high-water mark of Lake Michigan. 

This legislation would ensure that the general public retains the ability to walk, fish, swim and boat along the lakeshore up to the ordinary high-water mark and gives the Indiana Natural Resources Commission the ability to allow additional recreational uses in the future. This bill is currently in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is working with legislators and its partners to help preserve access and preserve rights of sportsmen and women to use this world-class resource.    

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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