Washington Law Review


Since 1971 the Shoreline Management Act (SMA) has been the dominant legal tool for managing the Washington coastal zone. However, use of state-owned beds of navigable fresh and salt waters below low tide or the low-water line is still controlled largely by the harbor line system established in the 1889 state constitution. Almost no attention has been paid to the harbor line system in the legal literature, or to its relationship to the other laws concerned with coastal zone management. This article briefly analyzes the relationship of the harbor line system to the SMA, to the various federal laws concerned with the coastal zone, and to the public trust doctrine, and then describes the origin, development, and operation of the system in Washington.

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