Beach Grooming Bill Signed

Governor Rick Snyder recently signed into law Senate Bill 1052 that will allow for the removal and mowing of vegetation and the leveling and grooming of sand from private beaches without first obtaining a permit from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). It is now Public Act 247 of 2012.
The exemption from the DEQ permit does not include exemption from federal permit regulations (property owners will still have to obtain a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) and does not apply to property owners living along or near the St. Clair Flats located in St. Clair County.
You may recall concerns that surfaced with the original language of the bill as it pertained to the definition of the ordinary high water mark. This language MUCC believed would have allowed for the blocking of access to the shoreline between the ordinary high water mark and the water’s edge, typically believed to be held for public use under the public trust doctrine.
This troublesome language was removed by the bill sponsor and instead focused on the vegetation removal and beach grooming activity that was the bill’s intent.
Further concerns over whether this bill would instigate the improper removal of the invasive plant phragmites by property owners. Phragmites is a species that has been best dealt with by using herbicides applied by professionals, whereas mowing or pulling the plant has been shown to actually lead to the spread of phragmites.
The legislature’s attempt to address this issue in the bill was to add a section requiring the Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Council to study the issue and report back on best methods and management practices.
To read the text or analysis of the law, click here.

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