Does my shoreline project require a permit?

Visit the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership Permit Information page for updated information.

Most shoreline restoration projects will require one or more permits:

    • If you will be working below the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) or below the Highest Legal Lake Level (HLLL) you will need a permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality under Part 301 (Inland Lakes and Streams) of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act (PA 451).
  • If you will be disturbing soils, removing existing vegetation or changing topography within 500 feet of a lake or stream you will need a Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Permit from the county soil erosion inspector under Part 91 (Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control). There are exemptions for certain residential properties. Check with your county or municipal soil erosion office to see if you qualify.
  • Wetlands contiguous to inland lakes and streams are regulated by the state of Michigan under Part 303 (Wetlands Protection), and associated projects may require a permit. If you are unsure about the existence of a regulated wetland in your project area, check with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Wetland Identification Program.

Some projects will require more than one permit. Always check with the appropriate agencies/offices during the planning stages. Allow at least 90 days to get permits in place.

Shoreline Permit Terminology

Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) – The line on the shore established by the fluctuations of water and indicated by physical characteristics such as clear, natural line impressed on the bank, shelving, changes in the character of soil, destruction of terrestrial vegetation, the presence of litter and debris, or other appropriate means that consider the characteristics of the surrounding areas.

Highest Legal Lake Level (HLLL) – Legal lake levels are established under Part 307 of Act 451. On level-controlled lakes, locating the highest legal lake level is part of the planning process. Contact your county drain commissioner for information on legal lake levels.

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