Virginia Coastal Policy Center


Reeana Keenen


In Virginia, private landowners own the land to the Mean Low Water mark (“MLW”), whereas in many coastal states private landowners only own to the high water mark. The bottomlands channelward of the MLW mark in Virginia are governed by the Public Trust Doctrine, meaning that the state holds this land in trust for use by the public. However, use conflicts can arise where private landowners own property adjacent to publicly owned property or where public easements run through private property adjacent to public beach access points.

This Paper will provide a summary of the law regarding private and public use of property on Virginia’s coast, identify the entities with jurisdictional authority to resolve issues on such property, and analyze different types of conflicts that may arise.

This abstract has been taken from the author's introduction.

Document Type

Shoreline Management and Riparian Rights

Publication Date

Spring 2018