New law allows riparian owners to mow beaches without permits
A new law relaxing beach grooming rules will allow most shoreline owners along the Great Lakes to maintain their beaches without first seeking a permit.
The law was approved by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder. Shoreline property owners still will be required to get a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers for beach grooming below the ordinary high water mark elevation. In the past, riparian owners were also required to apply for and receive a $50 permit to alter Great Lakes shorelines.
The change was sought by a statewide non-profit organization going by the name of Save Our Shoreline (SOS).
Dave Almeter of Bingham Township serves on the SOS board of directors.
“I hope no one abuses the privilege of grooming. We all know the importance that wetlands play in our ecosystem,” Almeter said.
Further information on the “do’s and don’ts” of beach grooming is available at www.saveourshoreline.org.
“This does not end our fight for private property rights,” Almeter said.
More specifically, the law clarifies that the state may not use laws governing wetlands or submerged lands to prohibit “leveling of sand, removal of vegetation, grooming of soil or removal of debris” in typical beach area of sand, rock, or pebbles. The new law also allows the mowing of vegetation below a defined “ordinary high water mark” regardless of soil type. The mowing exemption should help shoreline owners remove the invasive, non-native plant phragmites from their property, according to the SOS.
The struggle for relaxed beach grooming rules has gone on for years.
“It has been 12 long years, but finally we have an important piece of the relief we have been asking for,” said Ernie Krygier, SOS president. “Under this bill, we expect to see a significant reduction in phragmites, better beaches, and more tourism money flowing into Michigan.”
While the law takes away the need for state permits, a permit for many activities is still required from the Corps of Engineers-Detroit District. The exception is mowing, which the Detroit District says it does not regulate. As a result, with the new law, most Great Lakes owners may mow immediately without the need for a permit.