As Galvestonians know, hurricanes can cause serious and finite damage to property. Recent storms, like Hurricane Laura and Tropical Storm Beta, have caused some other problems, murkier in nature. These problems center around public beach designations and who’s ultimately in charge of cleaning debris in areas that have been eroded — especially on the West End.

“Public Beach” is a legislative term designating the area between the low mean waterline and high mean waterline where the public has constitutional rights to recreate on the beach regardless of underlying public or private ownership. The Texas General Land Office and local municipalities have a public duty to maintain these areas free of litter and threats to health and safety.

Mary Beth Bassett is the public relations director for the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Park Board of Trustees.

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