Beach maintenance bill sent to governor

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LANSING?Lakeshore property owners will have more freedom to properly maintain their beaches under legislation sent to the governor by the Michigan Senate on Thursday, said co-sponsor Sen. Darwin Booher.

“Michigan’s miles of sandy beaches play an important role in our outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities, the quality of life that attracts so many to our state and an economy that supports millions of families,” said Booher, R-Evart. “This reform will increase outdoor activities and encourage the maintenance of our beachfronts by removing costly government regulations that only inhibit the process. This freedom will mean cleaner, safer beaches for families and tourists to enjoy.”

Low water levels in 1999 exposed beaches across the Great Lakes, which were quickly overrun with invasive plants and other weeds. State policy at the time was to prevent landowners from grooming their beaches to remove plants or prevent them from growing without an individual permit.

Senate Bill 1052 would eliminate certain Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) restrictions about how beach maintenance can be done. Property owners with sandy beaches would no longer need to get a permit from the DEQ for beach grooming activities, although some activities may still be subject to federal regulation.

“I supported this initiative because it strikes a smart balance between ensuring private property rights and protecting our state’s natural resources,” Booher said. “By removing unnecessary and confusing government restrictions, we are stopping invasive species from taking hold and enabling lakefront property owners to keep their beaches clean, sandy and open for use.”

Under SB 1052, owners of sandy beaches would not need a DEQ permit to remove vegetation and debris on the section of their beaches between the normal high-water mark and the water’s edge. Construction projects and digging of channels or dredging below the ordinary high-water mark would still be subject to a state permit.

SB 1052 has been sent to the governor, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

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