Beach grooming bill sent to Governor  

LANSING, Mich.— A measure to clear up confusing and restrictive state regulations that limit shoreline owners’ ability to groom their beaches was finalized by the Legislature and sent to the Governor for his signature, said sponsor Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba.
 
“This proposal interjects some common sense into the regulatory process by removing duplicative regulation and protects the rights of property owners to clean up beachfronts on their property,” Casperson said.  “For the first time in more than a decade, this summer property owners will be able to clean their beaches without undue and burdensome state regulations.”
 
Senate Bill 1052 proposes to get rid of restrictions implemented by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on how beach maintenance can be done. Under the legislation, property owners would no longer need to get a permit from the DEQ for beach grooming activities on sandy beaches and would not be limited in their efforts to mow, level sand or remove vegetation due to state regulation.
 
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 restrictions will still be imposed by the Army Corps of Engineers under federal regulations. 
 
“Although there are still some restrictions on property owners that I believe to be unnecessary, this is not only a big step in the right direction, but an opportunity for us to demonstrate just how unreasonable those remaining restrictions are,” said Casperson. 
 
Upper Peninsula residents played a significant role in helping the legislation be approved by the Legislature by participating in committee meetings and corresponding to lawmakers and the Governor.
 
“Our major concern has been to have the freedom to groom and maintain these beaches while at the same time eradicating invasive vegetation such as phragmites, thereby allowing property owners and citizens the ability to truly enjoy the shores of the Great Lakes,” said James Hansen of Escanaba.
 
“The regulations contained in current law for beach grooming activities inhibit the property owner’s ability to enjoy and use their beaches,” Casperson said. “This measure seeks a sensible balance between preservation of coastal wetland areas and private property owners’ rights to groom their beaches and help to control the spread of invasive species.”
 
SB 1052 now awaits the governor’s signature.
 

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