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E-M:/ Fwd: DEQ Informs Lakefront Property Owners of Regulations

Enviro-Mich message from "Jack, Rita" <ritaj@umflint.edu>

-----Original Message-----
From: Pat Watson [mailto:WATSONPE@STATE.MI.US]
Sent: Wednesday, July 25, 2001 10:59 AM
Subject: New DEQ Press Release - 7/25/01

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                           	
July 25, 2001                                   	

Contact: Ken Silfven
(517) 241-7397

DEQ Informs Lakefront Property Owners of Regulations
Agency sends 135 letters to halt illegal work on bottomlands

The Department of Environmental Quality is sending letters to area lakefront property owners clarifying the types of activities that are allowed on exposed Saginaw Bay bottomlands.

Recipients are property owners who have plowed or disked bottomlands lakeward of the ordinary high-water mark.  Such activities are not in keeping with a compromise developed last year following a series of public meetings with the DEQ and area legislators.  The agency has sent 135 letters.

DEQ Director Russell Harding said that the move is designed to help people fully understand the regulations, and to protect the state-owned bottomlands from illegal activities.

"The DEQ has listened closely to the concerns of local property owners," Harding said.  "We agree that exercising some flexibility is warranted so that this sensitive resource remains protected without denying residents reasonable enjoyment of the beachfront.  But people cannot take liberties with the law.  Those who ignore it are subject to state enforcement action.  We hope that this letter provides everyone with a clear understanding of activities that are allowed and those that are not."

As a result of last year's discussions, the DEQ has proposed changing its rules to allow:
· Mowing of vegetation from the upland ownership to the existing water's edge.
· Mechanical grooming of exposed bottomlands to remove debris within an area parallel to the existing water's edge and up to 30 feet landward of the water's edge.  Grooming can be done by raking or dragging the top 4 inches of non-vegetated areas only.  Debris collected must be properly disposed of outside of bottomland and wetland areas.

Until the revised rules take effect, the DEQ will not take enforcement action against lakefront property owners who adhere to the guidelines for mowing and grooming.

"This is a fair compromise and we expect property owners to comply," Harding said.  "People will have adequate time upon receipt of this letter to fully comprehend the regulations.  But if problems persist, the DEQ will protect these valuable coastal areas by imposing appropriate penalties on those who continue to violate the law."

Permits are required for all other activities on exposed bottomlands, including filling, dredging, grading, plowing or disking.  

The state has stepped up monitoring of beachfront areas around Saginaw Bay.  Minor offenses are a misdemeanor punishable by up to $500 in fines.  Penalties for significant unauthorized activities are more severe.


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