During the past 15 years, in half the United States, more than 100 reported cases involving the public trust doctrine have had a major impact on natural resources protection. In Washington, two key cases decided in 1987 give major support to the public trust doctrine. In Caminiti v. Boyle, the court affirmed that the public trust doctrine is the law of this state and always has been. In Orion Corporation v. State, the court upheld the classification of private tidelands as open space and stated that classification that prohibits fill for residential housing and development raises no constitutional question because tidelands have always been subject to the burden of the public trust. Thus no "taking" occurred for such classification. The court further indicated that the doctrine would be construed liberally in this state. Thus, as the decisions in Caminiti and Orion make clear, Washington is establishing a pattern of reliance on the public trust doctrine.
Ralph W. Johnson, Oil and the Public Trust Doctrine in Washington, 14 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 671 (1991).