Public Road Ends Legislation Becomes Law in Michigan

March 23, 2012 15:41

Senate Bill 778 Becomes Public Act 56

The Michigan Senate and House have passed legislation that clearly defines and restricts the type of activities that may legally occur at the thousands of public road ends that terminate on Michigan’s inland lakes and streams.  The bill revises the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Public Act 451 of 1994 by adding a section that specifically addresses public road ends.  The legislation was signed by Lt. Governor Calley on March 22,2012 and takes affect immediately as Public Act 56.

The language of Senate Bill 778 provides statewide legal codification of nearly twenty year old court rulings that limited public road ends to one public dock, forbids overnight mooring and the installation of boat hoists. The Michigan Waterfront Alliance, Michigan Lake and Stream Associations and the Higgins Lake Property Owners Association have been pro-actively pursuing the introduction and passage of public road ends legislation for many years. Unregulated activity at public road ends has contributed to public road right of way hazards, promoted uncivil behavior, shoreline degradation and has created additional pathways for the introduction of aquatic invasive species into Michigan lakes and streams.

Here is the bill in its entirety:


Sec. 30111b.

(1)  A public road end shall not be used for any of the following unless a recorded deed,  recorded easement, or other recorded dedication expressly provides otherwise:

(a) Construction, installation, maintenance, or use of boat hoists or boat anchorage devices.

(b)  Mooring or docking of a vessel between 12 midnight and sunrise.

(c)  Any activity that obstructs ingress to or egress from the inland lake or stream.

(2)  A public road end shall not be used for the construction, installation, maintenance, or use of a dock or wharf other than a single seasonal public dock or wharf that is authorized by the local unit of government, subject to any permit required under this part. This subsection does not prohibit any use that is expressly authorized by a recorded deed, recorded easement, or other recorded dedication. This subsection does not permit any use that exceeds the uses authorized by a recorded deed, recorded easement, other recorded dedication, or a court order.

(3)  The local unit of government may prohibit a use of a public road end that violates this section.

(4)  A person who violates subsection (1) or (2) is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $500.00. Each 24-hour period in which a violation exists constitutes a separate violation of this section.

(5)  This section does not prohibit a person or agency from commencing a civil action for conduct that violates this section.

(6)  As used in this section:

(a) “Local unit of government” means the county, township, city, or village with jurisdiction over a public road.

(b) “Public road” means a county road or a township, city, or village street that is open for use by the public.

(c) “Public road end” means the terminus of a public road at an inland lake or stream.

Legislature Creates Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Council

January 16, 2012 13:29

Michigan Creates Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Council

The Michigan state legislature has passed, and Governor Snyder has signed into law, an important suite of late session bills designed to re-vitalize the state’s overall strategy in effectively responding to the onslaught of harmful aquatic invasive plants and animals that continues to occur in the waters of the State of Michigan and throughout the Great Lakes region. more »

Position Paper of MLSA Regarding Proposed Public Road Ends at Lakes Legislation

December 2, 2011 19:43


(November, 2011)

1.     What are these road ends?

Many inland lakes in Michigan have public roads (whether developed or undeveloped) which end perpendicular at the lake.  These are public roads and, hence, public property.  Theoretically, both the county road commission and local township government where a given road end is located have certain jurisdiction over such public roads.  The width of the rights-of-way or easements for these public roads vary—they can be anywhere from only 10 feet wide to 66 feet wide in some cases. more »

The Top Ten Excuses—Are You Kidding?!

November 29, 2011 00:33

Editors Note:  This is the second in a series of articles that will appear in Michigan Lake and Stream Associations media in regards to the upcoming 2012 general election.  Michigan has 1,242 townships spread across eighty three counties, and thousands more municipal governments in cities and towns throughout the state.  These local units of government have been empowered by the state legislature and by several Michigan courts to pass lake friendly ordinances. The sad fact is, local government entities have passed very few ordinances designed to protect these magnificent natural resources.  The following article, written several years ago by our chief counsel, Cliff Bloom,  reflects the prevailing attitude of the majority of these local units of government even today.  We would suggest that local government officials providing only excuses to concerned citizens seeking  to protect our fresh water resources should be considered for retirement on the first Tuesday of next November.

The Top Ten Excuses – Are You Kidding ?!

By Clifford H. Bloom,  Attorney-at-Law

Are you one of the unlucky riparians who own property on a lake where local officials refuse to do anything to help the lakes? In particular, has your municipality refused to enact anti- funneling/key-holing regulations, road end ordinances or lake preservation zoning techniques because municipal officials have one or more lame excuses for not doing so? Does it frustrateyou that the excuses appear to be a smoke screen for municipal officials who want to adopt such regulations and do not have the courage to simply say so? If so, this column is dedicated to you and contains the top 10 baseless excuses which some municipal officials use to justify not doing their jobs. more »

State Senate To Consider Legislation Restricting Activity at Public Road Ends

November 11, 2011 03:25

S.B. 778 Seeks to Restore Safety and Order to Our  Inland Lakes and Streams

Following decades of well publicized legal wrangling and high profile court cases whose decisions are known to Michigan’s legion of well informed riparians, the Michigan State Senate will soon consider legislation that, if passed and signed into law, would clearly define and restrict activity at the thousands of public road ends that  terminate at inland lakes and streams. Senate Bill 778 cleared the Judiciary Committee and was reported to the full Senate on October 26th. A House of Representatives version of the legislation is expected to be introduced soon.

As approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the language of the bill  states that “a public road end shall not be used for any of the following unless a recorded deed, recorded easement, or other recorded dedication expressly provides otherwise:

  • construction, installation, maintenance, or use of boat hoist or
    boat anchorage devices;
  • mooring or docking of a vessel between 12 midnight and sunrise;
  • any activity that obstructs ingress to or egress from the inland lake or stream.”

In addition, the bill states that “a public road end shall not be used for the construction, installation,   maintenance, or use of a dock or wharf other than a single seasonal public dock or wharf that is authorized by the local unit of government.” Violators would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 90 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.

Michigan Lake and Stream Associations enthusiastically supports the expedient passage and enactment of this long overdue legislation that seeks to provide a simple, pragmatic and equitable solution to the myriad of social, legal and  natural resources management related issues that frequently arise at heretofore unregulated public road ends.

We strongly suggest that the riparian readers of this newsletter immediately contact their respective state senators and representatives to encourage their support for this important legislation – passage of Senate Bill 778 is by no means guaranteed, please add your voice to those of the Michigan Waterfront Alliance and Michigan Lake and Stream Associations now to help ensure that a modicum of responsibility, civility as well as law and  order are  re-established next summer on our priceless  inland lakes and streams.  We may not have a second opportunity to accomplish this important legislative goal – act now, pick-up the telephone or e-mail your senators and representatives today !














Will You Elect Local Government Officials Who Are “Pro-Lake” ?

October 30, 2011 13:43

Local Governance is Critical to Responsible Lake Management

by Paul J. Sniadecki, President, Eagle Lake Improvement Association, Inc.

The next general election is only 12 months away, and most local municipalities in Michigan will elect to retain or to bring new faces and ideas to their governing bodies in early November of 2012. We should never underestimate how effective a local municipality (a township, city, or village) can be in protecting local lakes, if progressive, conservation oriented people are elected to the governing body. The overall impact on lakes (whether positive or negative) can be dramatic. Local governments can pursue pro-lake policies through progressive zoning ordinances and/or their master plans – they possess well established legal authority to pass ordinances and policies that regulate storm water runoff, lake access and public road ends, dock placement and public boat launch facilities, lakefront residential and commercial development, natural shoreline preservation and restoration, create local environmental committees as well as develop and implement local natural resources conservation guidelines.

Unfortunately, in some townships with lakes, it is difficult to elect pro-lake officials since the majority of riparian property owners are not residents (and hence, are not locally registered voters). There are also many instances of non-riparians sitting on the township board who are not particularly sympathetic to lake issues. In other townships, riparians have no such excuse, as there are sufficient riparian voters to be able to elect township boards comprised entirely of pro-lake people, but this rarely occurs, primarily due to apathy among riparians.

Now is the time to assess your local situation and make plans to bring about the needed changes to your local governing body. All riparians should determine which current local officials merit “retention”, and which ones need to be voted out. Riparians with basic leadership ability should be identified and encouraged to run for office. Do not accept lack of governmental ”knowledge/experience” as a barrier or as an excuse – the Michigan Townships Association, the Michigan Municipal League, the Michigan Association of Planners as well as Michigan State University regularly conduct training classes and seminars for those involved in and/or those interested in serving in an official municipal government capacity. These training events occur throughout the year and in many convenient locations throughout the state of Michigan.

Please visit the following websites of the aforementioned organizations and educational institutions that offer outstanding and affordable training opportunities for those considering a run for local elected office.

Michigan Township Associations:

Michigan Municipal League:

Michigan Association of Planners:

Michigan State University Citizen Planner Program:

MSU Institute of Water Research:

In addition, folks interested in running for local government office can find helpful information regarding election filing deadlines and Candidate Petition Requirements for 2012 by visiting:,4670,7-127-1633_8721_11839—,00.html

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a year long series of articles that will appear in this section of our web site regarding the upcoming general election. As Mr. Sniadecki has so effectively illustrated in his article, local elections in particular present Michigan voters with an outstanding opportunity to foster constructive, community-based pre-election discussion and debate focused on the important role of local government in the wise management of Michigan’s wealth of lake and stream resources. The significance of this discussion is highlighted by the fact that very few local governments in Michigan have effectively exercised their state legislature granted authority to contribute to the preservation and protection of our inland lakes and streams. You and your neighbors are uniquely empowered to affect the outcome of local elections and the future of your favorite lake or stream!

Michigan’s “Highest Seniority” Volunteer Inland Lake Water Quality Monitor Retires

October 27, 2011 10:54

Ralph Vogel of Corey Lake Hangs Up His Secchi Disk After 37 Years

Resourceful, practical, all-around-nice-guy, handy, a team player, generous, persistent and stewardship oriented – these are just a small sample of the superlatives that folks in the know have expressed in describing the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program’s (CLMP) “highest seniority” volunteer inland lake water quality monitor – the affable Mr. Ralph Vogel of southwest Michigan’s Corey Lake.

Following a long and fruitful career dedicated to enthusiastically monitoring the water quality in his favorite lake as well as providing outstanding technical and material support to the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program, Ralph will retire at the end of this season to spend more time with his family.

While it is impossible to adequately summarize and honor an active volunteer career which began in the spring of 1974 within the limited confines of a brief newsletter article – for now, we’ll just say that Ralph’s steadfast dedication to the CLMP program has established a measure of long-term excellence for which we all strive.  The entire Michigan Lake and Stream Associations extended statewide family wishes Ralph and his family all the best in retirement.  Please look for a more extensive article on Ralph’s substantive contributions to the CLMP program in the upcoming winter edition of The Michigan Riparian Magazine.


Starry Stonewort Continues to Plague Michigan Inland Lakes

September 15, 2011 00:57

Starry  Stonewort, a highly aggressive and rapidly spreading invasive  macro algae, continues to infect Michigan inland lakes at an alarming rate. Introduced to the Great Lakes region via the ballast water of freighters navigating into the Great Lakes region from the St. Lawrence Seaway, Starry Stonewort (scientific name: Nitellopsis obtusa) was first observed in  Lake St. Clair  in 1986, and was detected in a Flint area inland lake in 2006.

The invasive macro algae, a native of the United Kingdom and Europe, is thought to have infected over two hundred Michigan inland lakes as of the summer of 2011.

Starry Stonewort is often confused with chara, a beneficial, native macro algae that occupies the near bottom shallow areas of many inland lakes.

Inland lakes plagued by Starry Stonewort rapidly lose diverse populations of native  floating, emergent and submerged aquatic plants as increasingly large areas of the lake are covered by light green aquatic “meadows” of  the invasive macro algae. Inland lakes infested with Starry Stonewort often develop very clear water by preventing the re-suspension of bottom sediments and depriving native phytoplankton (various species of native algae) of life sustaining nutrients.


MLSA to Publish New Michigan Waterfront Real Estate Focused Book

August 6, 2011 15:05

ML&SA to Publish  New Real Estate  Focused  Book

Michigan Lake and Stream  Associations is preparing for a  September introduction of it’s latest book devoted to exploring issues associated with waterfront living in Michigan. The new book, entitled Buying and Selling Waterf ront Property in Michigan, is  authored by renowned riparian and water law attorney Cliff Bloom of Grand Rapids.

The nearly three hundred page book will be a “how-to” resource for anyone who is contemplating buying or  selling waterfront property in Michigan.  This book will also be helpful to readers  who currently own or have an  interest in waterfront property, since it also contains a wealth of information regarding  waterfront property ownership, riparian rights, and a variety of other matters regarding the waterfront.

The new book will be available from the ML&SA Central Office by mid-September at a cost of $20.00 per copy plus shipping costs.


MI Senate Bill 509 Seeks MDEQ AIS Advisory Council

July 17, 2011 18:00

In a rare instance of bi-partisan cooperation and support, legislation has been introduced in the Michigan Senate that would establish an Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Council within the Department of Environmental Quality.

Introduced by Senator Howard Walker of Traverse City with a substantial number of Republican and Democratic co-sponsors, Senate Bill 509 would amend Public Act 451- Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act of 1994 by adding Part 414 – Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Council.

The legislation recognizes that “aquatic invasive species (AIS) are a threat to public health and safety, the environment and natural resources, and the economy. AIS are a serious threat to the ecological integrity and uses of the Great Lakes.”

The AIS Advisory Council would be tasked with updating Michigan’s AIS Management Plan, developing and adapting model AIS programs as well as collaborating with other Great Lakes states and provinces to “ensure a coordinated and consistent response to aquatic invasive species” within the region.

The AIS Advisory Council would consist of the Directors of the DEQ, DNR, Agriculture and Rural Development, MDOT, the Attorney General as well as several other representatives appointed by the Governor, Senate Majority leader and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The Michigan House and Senate are expected to take further action on the proposed legislation upon their return from summer vacation in early September.

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