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E-M:/ Report: Michigan's World Class Coastlines at Risk


For Immediate Release

August 31, 2006



              Brad Garmon, Michigan Environmental Council: 517-487-9539

             Christy McGillivray, Clean Water Action: 248.514.9789

            Brad van Guilder, Ecology Center:  313-205-6386

            Kathy Evans, Timberland RC&D Area Council: 616-942-4111, ext. 156

            Jill Montgomery, MPA, Muskegon County Health Dept.: 231-724-1293 

Gail Gruenwald. Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council: 231-347-1181, ext. 103        



Michigan’s Coastlines: World Class Resource at Risk

Report:  A Call to Action as Mounting Development Pressure and Fragmented Oversight Threatens Economy,  Ecology of  Great Lakes Shoreline



Michigan’s Great Lakes coastline is a magnet for development, drawing people and businesses at a brisk pace that outstrips the growth of inland communities, documents a new report by the Michigan Environmental Council.


But fragmented and disjointed planning on the coasts is overseen by more than 400 separate jurisdictions, a confusing checkerboard of often contradictory and counterproductive rules, zoning laws and long-range plans. The result is a coastline where the character of towns and townships is under siege, and where family farms and important wildlife habitats are increasingly diced into slivers of their former selves.


The study, released today, recommends that state and local policy makers adopt a series of new laws, guidelines and research initiatives to collectively print a roadmap for coordinated coastal development.


“Historically, Michigan is fortunate to have had visionary leaders and strong state and regional agencies that have laid the groundwork for coastal protection,” said Brad Garmon, land programs director with MEC. “But it’s clear there is a lack of coordination not only among state agencies, but among neighboring local towns and cities when it comes to knitting together a big picture vision.”


Four coastal communities - Muskegon, Petoskey, Monroe and Grosse Pointe Farms – were singled out for particular scrutiny as part of the study. Community surveys and public forums were conducted in those cities, and the results are part of the report.


With 3,288 miles of Great Lakes shore, Michigan has more coastline than the entire eastern seaboard of the U.S. and more than any state except Alaska. Coastal resources are the foundations for jobs provided by many industries including automobile manufacturers and suppliers and tourism – Michigan’s top employers. The coasts are also key to the quality of life in a state whose identity is shaped in large part by water, beaches and boating.


Among the recommendations in the report:


n      The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality should create a committee to coordinate the various state agencies and programs working on coastal management, land use and water quality protection

n      Local governments should use Smart Growth management tools, and work cross-jurisdictionally to achieve big-picture results

n      Planning efforts must target specific areas for new growth and for resource protection, rather than relying on large lot sizes to achieve coastal protection

n      Leaders from government, universities, sciences, business and recreation should convene to create strategies local governments can use to maximize coastal assets.



The full report is available online at http://www.mecprotects.org/DevelopingOurCoastlines.pdf



The Michigan Environmental Council represents 72 environmental and public interest organizations with a combined membership of more than 250,000 Michigan residents. It provides research, communications, technical and political support to maintain a strong environmental voice at the local, state and federal levels.











Hugh McDiarmid Jr.

Communications Director

Michigan Environmental Council