Changes in Jurisdiction for Pictured Rocks

The state Senate approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Tom Casperson today that establishes concurrent state-federal law enforcement jurisdiction on federally owned lands, which will benefit the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

“Over the years, as property lines have shifted and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore has expanded, confusion has set in at times in emergency situations over which county, village or township authorities have jurisdiction to respond in emergency situations,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “My bill provides for shared jurisdiction of the lakeshore area, allowing for better service to those in need of help, which is why it is supported by emergency service providers on the local, state and federal levels. And, while allowing for better coordination and sharing of resources between those agencies, it in no way changes the boundaries of the park or the public’s use of it.”

Senate Bill 617 allows the federal government to obtain shared jurisdiction over certain parts of the lakeshore that are currently only controlled by the state of Michigan. The bill establishes a process for the federal government to request concurrent jurisdiction and for the governor to grant the request. The measure reserves certain authority for the state and preserves rights of citizens residing within the area.

Federal jurisdiction over the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore has not kept pace with the park’s physical expansion since its initial designation in 1967. Several lighthouses in the area that are under exclusive federal jurisdiction could be shared with local law enforcement agencies as well.

Park rangers Superintendent Jim Northrup and Chief Ranger Tim Colyer testified in support of the bill during a committee hearing in September.

SB 617 now goes to the state House for consideration.

To hear an audio clip of Casperson talking about his bill, please visit and click the Podcasts link.

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