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GLIN==> News Release: Great Lakes shoreline and wetlands: Task forceissues report

Title: News Release: Great Lakes shoreline and wetlands: Task

May 1, 2003
Contact:  Joyce Daniels, Michigan Sea Grant, (734) 647-0766, joydan@umich.edu
Judy Delestowicz, Michigan State University Extension, (989) 895-4025, delestowiczj@baycounty.net
Great Lakes shoreline and wetlands: Task force issues report
ANN ARBOR, Mich.---- A special task force studying state and federal regulations on wetlands has made recommendations to the regulatory agencies to allow shoreline property owners access to their waterfront while maintaining the ecological value of the areas.

The Shoreline Task Force identified areas of inconsistency in existing Army Corps of Engineers and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) permitting processes and recommended that the agencies work together to alleviate these inconsistencies. It identified and enumerated the activities that shoreline property owners can undertake without requiring a permit from either the state or federal regulatory agency. (See list below.) 
"We will be presenting the Shoreline Task Force recommendations and additional information about how to apply for permits and streamline the permitting process at several educational meetings around the state," said Howard Wetters, Michigan State University Bay County Extension director.  "This information will provide shoreline residents with tools they can use this summer to legally begin addressing their concerns about this issue."

The task force issued a consensus document that includes a set of recommendations for regulatory agencies, including the federal Corps of Engineers and state DEQ, as well as other agencies and organizations with a Great Lakes research mandate and interest in Great Lakes and coastal wetland issues.
"The consensus document and recommendations are a major step forward in addressing this important issue and balancing the rights of property owners and the public trust," said Dr. Jennifer Read, assistant director of Michigan Sea Grant. "The task force recommendations will provide direction and clarification about what activities are permitted on Great Lakes bottomlands."
The consensus document clarifies the acceptability of some routine activities for shoreline homeowners, such as raking away debris, and building bonfires and sand castles. Activities that may require permits, such as mowing and path building, are also specified.
The Shoreline Task Force began meeting in November 2002 at the invitation of state Rep. Joseph Rivet (96th District) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Sea Grant representatives were asked to coordinate and facilitate the process and were designated as the group's spokespersons. The task force's primary goal was to develop a consensus document that identifies opportunities to allow shoreline property owners to access and enjoy their waterfront while maintaining the ecological value of the new wetland areas around the state.
The multi-party task force consisted of representatives of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ); Save our Shoreline; Lone Tree Council; Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council; Michigan United Conservation Clubs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and an interested individual. Observers included representatives from U.S. Congressman Dale Kildee's office (MI-5th District), U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow's office, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin's office and state representative Dale Sheltrown's office (103rd District). The Corps provided technical assistance.
The task force enumerated those activities that are allowable under General Permit (DEQ), proposed Permit by Rule (DEQ) or Nationwide Permit (Corps). These permit types impose considerably less red tape on a landowner than individual permits because they do not require a public notice period and generally have lower fees.  The DEQ Permit by Rule process allows property owners to undertake specific activities after notification to DEQ (via a letter) stating their intention and that their property and proposed activity meet all of the specified criteria set out by the department under administrative rules. (See list below.) 

The Shoreline Task Force Consensus Document is available from Wetters or  Read; and available at: http://www.lre.usace.army.mil under "Hot Topics," click on Saginaw Bay.  The consensus document will be presented to members of the Michigan legislature, which is currently considering legislation addressing this issue. 
Michigan Sea Grant, a cooperative program of U-M and MSU, is part of a national network of 30 Sea Grant programs dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources. Funding is provided through the National Sea Grant College Program by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.
MSU Extension is an educational organization funded jointly by the County Board of Commissioners, the State of Michigan through Michigan State University and federally through the US Department of Agriculture.
For more information, contact Read at (734) 936-3622 or Wetters at (989) 895-4026.
Activities that do not require a permit by DEQ or the Corps
-- Removing debris by hand
-- Hand shoveling/manually raking dead fish and zebra mussel shells
-- Hand shoveling/manually raking trash and dead vegetation
-- Manually burying debris such as dead fish, dead vegetation, and small trash items
-- Building a sand castle
-- Wheel barrow and mechanized vehicles can be used to transport above materials to uplands
-- Hand shoveling and raking wind blown sand from home sites
-- Hand shoveling/manually pulling plants (does not authorize the taking of threatened and endangered species), includes hand tools
-- Bonfire building
-- Temporary tent building and camping by permission of the property owner
-- Beaching boats and seasonal storage of ice shanties

Activities that require a DEQ General Permit or Permit by Rule and/or Corps Nationwide Permit:

Path Building:
(General specifications of the permit(s) - DEQ General Permit and Corps Nationwide Permit)
-- 6-foot wide path
-- Maximum length of 200 linear feet total, but can be built in sections
-- Can use up to 25 cubic yards of non-vegetated dredge material from below the ordinary high water mark to build the path
-- Also possible are seasonal, wooden walkways, 200 linear feet long, 6 feet wide
-- Present photos with application
-- Either agency may respect site-visit of other agency
-- If you desire to fill areas falling outside of the pathway, contact your local Corps and DEQ office.

Mowing Vegetation
(General specifications of the permit(s) - DEQ General Permit, proposed Permit by Rule)
-- Corps: mowing, by mechanical or hand tools, of exposed lake bed or wetland areas is not regulated provided the soil is not disturbed other than by normal use of tires or footprints. The equipment may not relocate, grade, or redeposit soil.
-- DEQ: mowing is a regulated activity; the proposed Permit by Rule is to mow up to a 100 foot width from the ordinary high water mark to the water's edge with no soil disturbance (e.g. no plowing or disking). No mowing is allowed in a designated Environmental Area. Common tools include: lawnmowers, brush hogs, sickle-barred mowers, riding mowers.

(General specifications of the permit(s) - DEQ General Permit, proposed Permit by Rule)
-- Corps: no permit required for non-mechanical grooming from ordinary high water mark to the water's edge;
-- DEQ proposed Permit by Rule for mechanical grooming is 30 feet landward from water's edge on non-vegetated areas