Legislation improving Michigan beaches passes Senate committee

Legislation improving Michigan beaches passes Senate committee

LANSING – Legislation that streamlines state regulations regarding care and maintenance of Great Lakes beaches near shoreline property was approved be the Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee, said committee member and co-sponsor State Sen. Mike Green

“Today, we are one step closer to a fundamental change in Michigan law that will improve the quality, cleanliness and vitality of our beaches by empowering private shoreline property owners with the ability to care for them without government interference,” said Green, R-Mayville. “State government doesn’t have the resources to maintain our 3,000 plus miles of Great Lakes shoreline. Folks are stepping up and investing their own time and money to preserve this natural resource not only for their own enjoyment but for the benefit of future generations.”

Among the changes in Senate Bill 1052, permits from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will no longer be required for activities such as grooming, removing vegetation, mowing or leveling of sand above or below what is now called the ordinary high watermark.  It also removes definitions from current law that restrict beach grooming activity and prohibits the DEQ and local governments from regulating the activity using other parts of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA).

“The bill removes a very costly and time-consuming step that actually harms our beaches and vital natural resources,” Green said. “It is great news for the Bay and Thumb areas whose livelihood and quality of life depend on the Great Lakes and its shoreline. I look forward to the passage of this legislation, which benefits the environment, private property rights and government responsiveness and which continues the common sense regulatory reform we began last year.”

Shoreline property owners will still be required to get a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers for beach grooming below the ordinary high water mark elevation and from the DEQ for construction, dredging, placing of spoil or other material, work in canals, and other activity that takes place below the established regulatory water mark. The DEQ will also retain the ability to regulate environmental areas designated as protected for the purposes of preservation and maintenance of fish, wildlife and other natural resources, if the proper scientific studies and surveys have been conducted.

The bill now advances to the full Senate.