The Riparian Extension - Inland Lake Bottom Owner

The underwater 'slice of pie'




Ownership of riparian property automatically includes that portion of a lake's bottomlands known as the riparian extension or sometimes known the "Heeringa" extension (named after a key case, Heeringa v Petroelje, which reaffirmed these rights).

This property right includes those portions of the subaquatic land (i.e. lake bottom) determined via the 'thread' determination method.

The process is factually complicated and quite fact specific to each lake, but can be generally described as the portion of the underwater lands commencing from two corners where the upland meets the water and then to the center-point in the lake--forming demonstratively a slice of pie. This land ownership is implied by law and may not even be on the deeds, but still exists.

For example, the owners of Lots A, B, and C in the diagram own their respective 'slice of pie' to the center of the lake, even if their deeds do not specifically reference the same.



By owning the lake bottom land, this allows lakefront owners to place a seasonal recretional dock into the land in the Riparian Extension.

However, unique to property law, such a "Heeringa" extension is not alienable, severable, divisible, or assignable apart from the uplands (i.e. Lots A, B, & C). In other words, the right to lake bottom owner "runs" with the shoreland, whomever owns said lot, and cannot be separately sold to another.

But, non-lakefront owners may not acquire riparian rights by conveyance or reservation, but may acquire easements, licenses, or the like for a right-of-way for access to a water course.

Protect Your Rights

OLC represents private land owners regarding disputes with local governments, enforcement officials, neighbors, home and property owners associations, and others. Contact a riparian rights attorney at Outside Legal Counsel today.