Dennis W. Ducsik

  • Shoreline for the Public

    A Handbook of Social, Economic, and Legal Considerations Regarding Public Recreational Use of the Nation's Coastal Shoreline

    Dennis W. Ducsik

    The need for land management along the coastal shoreline is a pressing one for the American public, whose long-standing interests in this important part of the nation's natural heritage are seriously threatened. The means historically relied upon for the allocation of scarce coastal resources among competing uses have systematically underrepresented the value of public open spaces. The resulting excess of private development—compounded by problems of pollution, erosion, and the increasing tendency of private owners to restrict public access—has severely limited opportunities for public recreational use of coastal areas at a time when the needs and the demands for such satisfying leisure activity are mushrooming. This situation has attracted attention in the Congress, which has declared a national interest in coastal open spaces for public use through the enactment of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972.

    Shoreline for the Public comprises a description and analysis of the nature of this problem, its casual factors, and the legal tools that might be employed to achieve policy objectives as they evolve. Included are discussions of coastal misallocation in terms of the organization of traditional economic and political decision processes; of legal regimes governing public and private rights in seashore areas; of judicial applications of common law doctrines to assert public recreational rights, and of the use of various governmental powers to ensure the availability and accessibility of littoral open spaces for the public at large.

    In addressing the topic of recreational use of the land-sea interface, Shoreline for the Public necessarily deals with a number of broad issues in land-use management and control in the coastal zone. Of particular concern throughout the book are questions involving the roles of state and local governments in coastal decision-making; the relationship between court interpretation of the “taking” issue and the need for administrative flexibility; and the difficult task of adjusting the allocative system so that the full range of social objective is adequately considered in the process of setting priorities in shoreland allocation. In this context, decreasing open space for the public recreational use is representative of a family of complex coastal resource management issues—many of which are far from being resolved—and Shoreline for the Public is thereby useful as a basic text in this emerging area of environmental policy studies.

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