Closing the Regulatory Gap in Michigan’s Public Trust Doctrine: Saving Michigan Millions with Statutory Reform

The Great Lakes are some of Michigan’s most valuable and important environmental resources. The public trust doctrine requires Michigan to protect and preserve the lands along the shores of the Great Lakes for the use of future generations. Unfortunately, the public trust doctrine in Michigan is in disarray and as a result, public and private rights to the lands along the Great Lakes are poorly delineated. This Note presents an economic argument for why the public trust doctrine should be reformed to better define public and private rights to the land along Michigan’s Great Lakes. It also suggests a statutory reform that would solve many of the problems that currently exist with Michigan’s public trust doctrine. Without the statutory reform proposed in this Note, or something similar, Michigan stands to lose millions of dollars in valuable environmental resources associated with the Great Lakes.