Massachusetts has 1,400 miles of shoreline, but most are off-limits to most residents. How can that be in a state known as the "Bay State?"

Massachusetts Public Broadcast Station WGBH reported in 2022, "Just 12% of the state's beaches are open to all members of the public, according to a coastal land inventory done by the state more than 30 years ago – the last estimate the state ever attempted, when the state had about 1 million fewer residents."

The report says, "Entry to most beaches is dependent on personal wealth, your home zip code and a shrinking allotment of 'visitor' parking spaces clustered far from the water, and a system of parking restrictions aimed at out-of-towners."

The report says it's also a problem of "climate change" and an "issue of racial equity."

Most Of Massachusetts Shoreline Off Limits To General Public
Horseneck Beach State Reservation

Boston Magazine says, "In Massachusetts, private land can extend all the way to the mean low tide mark, a standard established in the Colonial Ordinances of 1641-47." The magazine says, "As the tide goes out along a private beach, the wet sand exposed becomes private property."

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Boston Magazine says, "In every other coastal state except Maine, Delaware, and Virginia, private property ends at the high tide mark." In some states like Texas, "private property ends even earlier, at the vegetation line before the sand."

Both publications report unsuccessful attempts to remedy the situation in a way that would provide greater access to the shoreline to the nearly seven million people who live in Massachusetts.

Most Of Massachusetts Shoreline Off Limits To General Public
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media

Even in areas such as New Bedford and the Horseneck Beach State Reservation, where the shoreline is accessible to all, parking fees can make it prohibitive for some.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation does provide low-cost parking passes for seniors, veterans and others.

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