High lake levels create trespassing risk for beach walks

Posted at 4:45 PM, Jun 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-05 17:15:13-04

WEST MICHIGAN -- Each Great Lake this either hit a new record high or came within inches of a record last month, effectively shrinking beaches to just a few feet.

In some cases, beaches have been washed away completely.

With the warm weather here to stay for a few months, you may choose to venture out for a walk or jog along the shore. However, the higher water could lead people into trespassing on private property if you are not careful.

Walkers can roam anywhere they'd like on a public beach. But when they venture away from public property, it's important to stay within the legal area set by the state.

A legal area will always be available on any Great Lake beach, but distinguishing it is not always easy.

Jim Olson, president and legal counsel of FLOW (For Love Of Water), says the legal area is the wet zone that is a result of the waves crashing on the shore. If the water was very low, there would be some space to walk in the dry sand.

The opposite is the case this summer, so you will have to keep your feet wet.

Where some legal trouble comes in is if you venture out of the wet zone onto private property. If the beach is small enough to go onto someone's deck or stairs, you must find an alternate route, or turn back.

If you are ever in doubt while walking along the shore of the one of the Great Lakes in any of the eight states, best advice is just to keep your feet wet at all times. You can visit FLOW's website for more information on your legal right to walk along the beaches in Michigan.