Casperson to hold informational meetings on beach grooming law changes

LANSING, Mich.— A measure to remove state regulations that limit shoreline owners’ ability to mow and groom their beaches was signed by the governor on Tuesday and is effective immediately, said sponsor Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba.

“Property owners with sandy beaches that have become overgrown with vegetation due to restrictive state regulations will have more flexibility to either mow or remove that vegetation under the new law,” Casperson said. “Although property owners may begin to groom their beaches immediately, I encourage them to ask questions and understand their rights and responsibilities under the new law before proceeding with any grooming activities to ensure that they are aware of the few regulations that remain.”

Senate Bill 1052, now Public Act 247 of 2012, removed restrictions implemented by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) that have limited how beach maintenance can be done. Under the new law, property owners no longer need to get a permit from the DEQ for beach grooming activities on sandy beaches, meaning that DEQ cannot limit their efforts to mow, level sand or remove vegetation on sandy beaches.

However, certain non-beach-grooming activities like construction projects, digging of channels, or dredging below the ordinary high watermark will still be subject to a permit from the DEQ, grooming activities in coastal wetlands would still require a state permit, and some grooming activities will still be regulated by the Army Corps of Engineers and need a permit under federal regulations.

“Although there are still some restrictions on property owners that I believe to be unnecessary, this is a big step in the right direction,” Casperson said. “In the next few weeks, we will have some informational meetings throughout the district to help the public in general and beach owners in particular understand the changes in the law and better understand and illustrate what is permissible. Everyone is welcome, and I am hopeful that many are able to attend.”

The meeting information will be provided to local newspapers, or residents are welcome to contact Casperson’s Senate office at (866) 305-2038 for details.