Who Protects the Public Trust?

Richard Norton, Ph.D., JD

Who Protects the Public Trust is a very short presentation by Professor Richard Norton, Taubman College, University of Michigan. Norton is an expert in Michigan planning and zoning law and a natural resources specialist. In this video, Norton describes and illustrates the concept of “public trust” and how important it can be to Michigan’s citizens. He says very clearly that local governments – cities, villages and townships – are responsible for how upland areas of the coasts are used and sometimes compromised, restricting the public’s ability to walk Great Lakes beaches, a right of the public trust.

Norton was filmed on the Lake Michigan shoreline in the City of South Haven last summer (2020). Most of this film is incorporated in a series of videos produced under a project organized and led by Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Sea Grant, and Michigan Natural Features Inventory with financial support from the Michigan Coastal Management Program, Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Under the multi-agency project, the producer and publisher of Nature Change, Joe VanderMeulen and associate producer Bronwyn Jones worked to create a six-part film series on the impacts of climate, storms and changing water levels on Michigan’s Great Lakes shorelines. The focus of the series is on improving coastal community resilience through informed planning and land use management. To view the complete series of videos and access a wide range of helpful information, please visit the Michigan Coastal Program’s portion of EGLE’s website HERE.

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