Does Every Maine Lake Have A Public Landing, Boat Launch?

lake sunset maine photo

Public landings, boat launches and access on Maine lakes, does every waterbody have one?

It would be nice if they did and were all clearly marked. But back it up a tad. Whoa. Let’s talk about the Great Ponds Act of Maine. lake sunset maine photo

A Maine great pond is defined in as “any inland body of water which in a natural state has a surface area in excess of 10 acres”.

“Or any inland body of water formed artificially, or increased with surface area larger than 30 acres.

Except if one single Maine land owner completely surrounds the artificially formed or increased inland body of water”.

The “great pond” legalese was penned and carried over back before Maine became a state. Prior to 1820, Vacationland was part of Massachusetts.

The original language, intended purpose of the case law was to protect timber harvests, to preserve shoreland areas. Establish do’s and don’t’s for the locals to practice in Maine land use. To avoid squabbles, develop standards.

Here is a list of public landings for Maine lakes, ponds, waterbodies.

I have sold properties where a lake on the property was under 10 acres, totally surrounded by one Maine land owner. And who wanted to change the name of the waterbody. Because their young daughter had died of cancer.

And the thought to make the lake designated on maps changed to the daughter’s name. Last I knew, the lake name was not changed, we sold the property and the move got lost in the shuffle.

We also have locals or the town office tell us on this lake or pond the public landing that might not be a boat launch is between these two cottage owners.

But the hostility of the two neighboring waterfront property owners can make it difficult to use. Hard to enforce. maine flowers by mainelake photo

If someone does not want you using that strip of land next to their vacation camp or lake home, you find another way.

Or with all the Maine lakes, ponds and other waterfront options, you just hit another one.

Shift gears and explore another one. Working your way through the waterfront circuit. Checking off you hope to sample and enjoy over time.

In many areas around the Maine land you buy, you can enjoy five to ten lakes or ponds in just a five mile radius. Recreational water is everywhere. You are in Maine remember?

Some waterbodies are sources for drinking in municipalites so special rules on use apply. Other lakes or ponds have regulation on no boat motors, or a limit to under ten horse power for instance.

It is best to check first for the legal access to waterfront from your Maine land.

And to talk with the land owners you travel over to use it. To make sure there is legal access. Private land owners in Maine have rights. You want to respect them. Get off on the right foot.

Like the Maine snow sled trail system we let cross the back of a Maine family farm. it is a priviledge not a right. And totally voluntary. Up to the user whether the property owner, Maine land is kept available to cross to get to the next piece and so on. To build the connection, bridge.maine lake photo

The state of Maine owns the lakes, ponds, waterbodies.

Shoreland zoning in Maine.

Comes into play on what you can do around those water bodies on the land you own down to the low water mark.

So if bigger than ten acres, the state has title to the actual water not a private individual bordering the water out front.

The more people, developed lakes in southern Maine are near population centers in the Boston area. More folks, that density makes it harder to find access. Sold off and developed. Or just banned from use by the new owner.

Unless a clearly established Maine public or boat landing is maintained and protected for all to see. Don’t assume there is naturally one hiding around here somewhere. 

And that landing, boat launch, does it have adequate parking for boat trailers and whatever pulls them? Otherwise a bigger hassle of being on private property to park those while out on the water is going to get you into hot H20 with the locals.

And here comes the game warden just doing his or her job. Answering a complaint that puts a dark rain cloud over your fishing or boating, kayaking plans. When he finds you on the water and asks if this registration number is your illegally parked vehicle.andy mooers ice cream photo

And just because it may be a public boat launch that is established, it does not mean swimming, camping are a  certainity.

And all that comes with folks wanting to cool off on a hot summer day in Maine is allowed.

That it is help youself, that you can set up shop at your leisure. Like you own the land.

The garbage left behind, noise of boom boxes and what happens if the adult grape juice and barley pop gets slurped too heavily to stay hydrated.

All reasons to find our your legal rights before buying Maine land where you are told there is easy access.

And avoid the “oh oh”, no there is not private legal access. Or public either. Or where it is suppose to be, there are lots of obstacles that make enjoyment of it a living you know what. Because of who is on both sides of the access that is termed a boat launched, public landing to use and enjoy.

I’m Maine REALTOR Andrew Mooers, ME Broker

207.532.6573 | |

MOOERS REALTY 69 North Street, Houlton ME 04730

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