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December 2020

New State Laws Enabling the Capacity of Local Units of Government to Establish No-Wake Ordinances are Helpful but No Substitute for the Need of Michigan’s Legislature to Establish Wake Boat Operating Standards to Help Ensure the Practice of Safe, Sustainable Wake Enabled Water Sports

In light of the fact that high energy wakes created by passing watercraft, and in particular wake enhanced boats are capable of inflicting damage to shoreline property and natural habitat during periods marked by high water, the Michigan state legislature passed a series of recreational boater targeted laws last year, that, in at least some cases, may help to mitigate the situation by allowing local governments to establish temporary no-wake watercraft limitations during periods of high water. Signed into law in April of 2020 by Governor Whitmer, Public Act No. 70 of 2020 and Public Act No. 71 of 2020 permit the County Sheriff, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, or the County Emergency Management Coordinator to establish temporary reduced watercraft speed limits in response to the request of a local municipality in order to protect life and property during emergency conditions. Under Public Act 70 and 71, temporary speed limits are restricted to a maximum duration of 14 days. Temporary speed limits authorized under the auspices of Public Act 70 and 71 can only be issued once per each calendar year; they may, however, be issued twice in a calendar year if the municipality is seeking to implement the watercraft speed limit restrictions under a temporary ordinance.

Also becoming state law in the spring of 2020, Public Act No. 72 permits municipalities in Michigan to request Department of Natural Resources authorization to implement temporary ordinances regulating the use of watercraft for a period of up to six months, and may be extended or renewed only if the particular municipality is seeking to implement the restrictions on a permanent basis as a special local rule under the auspices of MCL 324.80110. To download a Michigan Department of Natural Resources document that was written to describe the procedures that are required in order to establish a temporary local watercraft control under the auspices of Public Act 72, click here. To download a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division Temporary Local Watercraft Control Application, click here.

It is important to note that Holland Charter Township, working with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, invoked the new law early in the summer of 2020 in order to establish a temporary no wake ordinance on Lake Macatawa that is set to expire on January 9, 2021. The establishment of a temporary “no wakes within 300 feet of the shoreline” prohibition enacted in July of 2020 by municipalities with jurisdiction over the large western Michigan inland lake represents one of the first actions taken under the auspices of the new law.

Michigan Waterfront Alliance recognizes the importance of the ability of municipalities to establish temporary no-wake ordinances in response to high water levels, and to the increasing presence of watercraft that are capable of generating wakes whose energy greatly surpasses those created by high winds. However, we also understand that the enactment of Public Act(s) 70, 71, and 72 does not provide an effective substitute for the long-standing need of our state legislature to enact wake boat operator targeted legislation that would define minimum distance to shore, and other critical operating criteria that would help establish safe wakeboarding practices while at the same time serving to protect Michigan’s inland lakes.

Michigan Waterfront Alliance Pleased to Make Important Contributions to the Highly Successful 2020 Michigan Inland Lakes Convention

by Bob Frye, MWA President

Michigan Waterfront Alliance is pleased to have been a major contributor to the unqualified success of the very well attended 2020 Michigan Inland Lakes Convention. Featuring three days of inland lake focused keynote speakers, workshops, presentations, and networking opportunities, this year’s lakes convention convened on the morning of Wednesday, September 16th, and ran through the late afternoon of Friday, September18th. Recognized as Michigan’s premier opportunity to learn about, and/or share the latest innovations, ideas, and methods associated with lake science, management, and stewardship, the theme of the 2020 virtual lakes convention was “Conserving Lakes in a Changing Environment”. We are also proud of the fact, that in addition to being a Platinum-level sponsor of the biennial event, members of the Michigan Waterfront Alliance Board of Directors made substantive contributions to the overall success of the convention.

Representing one of the best attended sessions of the 2020 Michigan Inland Lakes Convention, the presentation entitled “Legal aspects of the public trust doctrine as it pertains to Michigan’s lakes and streams”, conducted by attorney William Carey of the Grayling-based law firm Carey and Jaskowski PLLC, and attorney Dane Carey of the Traverse City-based law firm Kuhn Rogers PLC, both long standing Michigan Waterfront Alliance Board members, provided attendees with an overview of their legal rights under the Michigan Environmental Protection Act, and the Public Trust Doctrine. Moreover, attendees were also apprised of the legal remedies that can be used to compel appropriate government agency response to combat negative environmental impacts on Michigan waterways. To view the recorded session entitled Public Trust Doctrine, click here.

We are also pleased to recognize the contribution of Michigan Waterfront Alliance Board member Scott Brown, who organized a lakes convention workshop entitled “An update on critical aspects of the forty-year starry stonewort bio-invasion”. The opening session was dedicated to providing viewers with an overview of the natural history, biology, morphology, reproductive capacity, and eco-physiological prerequisites of starry stonewort; the second session of the workshop was dedicated to exploring research conducted by Wesley Glisson of the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center focused on discovering and developing effective, eco-friendly herbicide application-based alternatives for controlling exotic invasive starry stonewort. The concluding session of the three-hour workshop was conducted by David Carr, manager of the Hobart and William Smith College Finger Lakes Institute’s Starry Stonewort Collaborative, who discussed the mission, goals, and status of an on-going United States Environmental Protection Agency grant enabled project that was launched in order to enhance the capacity of lake managers and scientists within the Great Lakes region to manage exotic invasive starry stonewort. To view the recorded starry stonewort focused presentations, click here.

On behalf of the Michigan Waterfront Alliance Board of Directors,, we would like to extend a Happy Thanksgiving to our members, and to all who work hard throughout the year to help preserve and protect Michigan’s vast wealth of high quality inland lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands!