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Scott Brown

Michigan Waterfront Alliance Proposes to Conduct Two Presentations During the Upcoming Michigan Inland Lakes Convention

by Bob Frye, President, Michigan Waterfront Alliance

Legal Aspects of the Public Trust Doctrine as it Pertains to Michigan’s Lakes and Streams

Conference attendees will be apprised of their legal rights under the Michigan Environmental Protection Act and Public Trust Doctrine by noted attorney-at-law Bill Carey of the firm Carey & Jaskowski PLLC and Dane Carey of the Law firm of Kuhn Rogers PLC.

This session is intended to provide an overview of the legal remedies that can be used to compel a response to the misuse of water rights in the State of Michigan. An example being the Nestle water withdraws in the Reed City area. The discussion will focus on the viability of bringing a legal action against the abusers of water rights to pre-vent the resulting environmental impairment.

An Update on Critical Aspects of the Forty Year Starry Stonewort Bio-Invasion

Workshop attendees will receive an overview of the natural history, biology, morphology, reproductive capacity, the eco-physiological prerequisites of starry stonewort as well as a review of the number and distribution of inland lakes and other water bodies in Michigan that have been invaded by starry stonewort. The three hour session will also feature presentations regarding on-going efforts to develop bio-chemical means of effectively controlling the highly invasive macro-alga species, in addition to a presentation by the manager of the Finger Lakes Institute Starry Stonewort Collaborative, an EPA funded project intended to assist water resource managers and aquatic biologists in the Great Lakes region in developing exotic invasive starry stonewort specific management strategies.

A Steadily Increasing Number of Wake Boats Operating on Michigan’s Inland Waters Are Rendering Damage to Shallow Water Habitat and to Developed and Natural Shorelines



by Scott Brown, Michigan Waterfront Alliance Board Member

A dramatic upsurge in the number of wake boats operating on Michigan’s inland waters has resulted in a significant escalation in reports of overturned kayaks, swamped fishing boats, and damage to both developed and natural shorelines. The increasingly alarming situation has not only elicited the intense anger of affected waterfront property owners, paddle boat enthusiasts, and fisherman but it has also helped attract the attention of local, county, and state government officials to an increasingly important water resource management issue. A sharp increase in sales of the extraordinarily powerful and frequently disruptive boats that are capable of generating wakes whose energy greatly exceeds those that occur naturally as a result of high winds has served to bring the contentious issue to the forefront of public debate.

Based upon the findings of recent studies of the potential ecological impacts of wake boating conducted on inland lakes located in the province of Quebec, by an “average of a factor of four times”, wakes generated by near shore wake boat passes induced a significant increase in the level of energy reaching vulnerable shorelines. Moreover, a study of the impact of wake boat operation on critical shallow water habitat also conducted on the lakes of Quebec, revealed that high levels of turbulence associated with wake boat operation and their high energy wakes is capable of re-suspending bottom sediments, damaging aquatic plants, and of disturbing critical fish habitat situated in depths of up to fifteen feet. Lake managers, aquatic biologists, and conservationists throughout Michigan and the Great Lakes region are increasingly aware of the fact that frequent exposure to the high energy waves generated by wake sport enabling boats is likely to be having a long-term negative impact on a steadily escalating number of vulnerable inland lakes and other ecologically sensitive aquatic ecosystems.

Michigan Waterfront Alliance would greatly appreciate you sharing your experiences with the negative consequences of near shore wake boat operation with your local law enforcement agency as well as with your respective state representative and senator.

Michigan Waterfront Alliance Votes to Support the 2020 Michigan Inland Lakes Convention at the ‘Platinum’ Level

Michigan Waterfront Alliance Votes to Support the 2020
Michigan Inland Lakes Convention at the ‘Platinum’ Level

Recognizing the overall importance of pro-actively supporting the on-going efforts of the Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership, a statewide collaborative organization dedicated to protecting our state’s vast heritage of high quality inland lakes by advancing stewardship, the Officers and Directors of Michigan Waterfront Alliance are pleased to announce that they recently unanimously voted to help enable the upcoming 2020 Michigan Inland Lakes Convention by being a ‘platinum’ level supporter. The Michigan Inland Lakes Convention is a biennial event that brings together lake management professionals, researchers, local government officials, lake enthusiasts, and others interested in protecting Michigan’s water resources.

In addition to providing financial support to the Convention, Michigan Waterfront Alliance has also elected to support the inland lake focused event by submitting three distinct proposals for speaker presentations. For more information regarding the topics of our proposed speaker presentations, please read President Bob Frye’s article that appears at the top of this edition of our newsletter.

Scheduled to occur on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, September 16th, 17th, and 18th, this year’s Convention will occur in a virtual format due to the significant public health concerns currently being posed by the novel corona virus pandemic. To learn more about the upcoming 2020 Michigan Inland Lakes Convention, visit the convention dedicated web page.

Michigan Waterfront Alliance Seeks a Viable and Sustainable Means of Funding the Management and Control of Aquatic Invasive Species

Primarily attributed to the overland transport of small-craft boats, recreational boaters are known to play a key role in the unintentional introduction of an increasingly diverse array of often harmful exotic aquatic invasive plant and animal species within thousands of public boating accessible inland lakes in Michigan. A multitude of problems associated with the introduction of aquatic invasive species have been compounded by the fact that neither the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or the Department of the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) are presently capable of providing any level of funding assistance to lakefront communities striving to protect valuable public natural resources from the often deleterious influences of exotic species.

In the absence of state funding, or other viable funding options, lake associations and township officials are therefore left little choice but to work together in order to deploy Public Act 188, the Township Public Improvements Act, that provides township officials with the means to assess inland lake property owners for the cost of managing or controlling aquatic invasive species (AIS). Recognizing the inadequacy and unfairness associated with Michigan’s only AIS funding mechanism, Michigan Waterfront Alliance is pro-actively seeking to establish a viable and sustainable means of stakeholder-based funding that would permit recreational boaters to voluntarily contribute to funding earmarked for aquatic invasive species management. Rather than supporting an outright increase in boater registration fees, Michigan Waterfront Alliance is working pro-actively in Lansing to promote the creation of a donation check-off box that would allow recreational boaters to voluntarily contribute funds to support AIS management efforts during the once every three year process of registering their water craft with the Michigan Secretary of State.

The efforts of Michigan Waterfront Alliance are supported by the findings of a number of academic research projects, including the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center sponsored research that is discussed in the previous article, which strongly suggests that the majority of the public stakeholders of our inland lakes, primarily recreational boaters, would in fact be willing to contribute more in terms of resource user fees, for example, in order to support enhanced funding of programs designed to prevent, manage, and control exotic aquatic invasive species.

Mr. Ralph Bednarz, Career MDEQ Inland Lake Water Quality Administrator, and Lake Management Advocate Addresses MWA Board

The Officers and Directors of the Michigan Waterfront Alliance were pleased to have hosted Mr. Ralph L. Bednarz as a special guest during our Friday, March 13, 2020 Board meeting that was held at the offices of Karoub Associates in downtown Lansing. Retiring from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), now known as the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), in 2011 following a highly successful 35 year career in environmental protection and water resources management, Ralph managed the DEQ’s inland lakes water quality monitoring programs, including the Lake Water Quality Assessment monitoring program as well as the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program (CLMP). He was also responsible for the successful implementation of the 2007 and 2012 National Lakes Assessment in Michigan in addition to the development and implementation of the Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) volunteer water monitoring network. Tasked to coordinate the implementation of the 2012 National Lakes Assessment in Michigan, Mr. Bednarz returned to the DEQ Water Resources Division as a United States EPA Senior Environmental Employment Program specialist. His educational credentials include a Bachelor of Biological Sciences Degree from the University of Illinois, and a Master’s Degree in Limnology from Michigan State University.

Still actively involved in working to conserve Michigan’s legacy of high-quality inland lakes for future generations, Mr. Bednarz is involved with the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership, the Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership, and the Michigan Chapter, North American Lake Management Society. Ralph spoke with the MWA Board members about the critical importance of our unique role as a pro-active advocate and lobbying organization working on behalf of water resources and aquatic invasive species management in Michigan.

Update of Recent Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership Activities

The Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership (MILP) is made up of a broad range of organizations and agencies that have a common interest – protecting inland lakes. Explore this site to learn more about Michigan’s lakes, the organizations involved with the Partnership, and how you can be a part of the effort. You can also follow the Partnership on Facebook and Twitter! The Partnership is busy planning for the biennial Michigan Inland Lakes Convention that will take place in Grand Rapids on September 17-18, 2020.  This year’s theme is “Conserving Lakes in a Changing Environment”. Click here to learn more about the Partnership’s biennial inland lakes focused event.

Michigan Chapter, North American Lake Management Society (McNALMS) Update

The purpose of the Michigan Chapter, North American Lake Management Society is to promote understanding and comprehensive management of Michigan’s inland lake ecosystems. McNALMS recently launched a newly designed website, go to to view the organization’s new lake management resource dedicated website. The Michigan inland lake management focused organization also held a very well attended “Lunch and Learn” session on Wednesday, November 6, 2019 that was dedicated to exploring harmful algal blooms. Click here to view Michigan Chapter, North American Lake Management Society “Lunch and Learn” presentations and to learn about upcoming lake management associated events.

MWA to Hold One Day Conference Focused on Economic Contributions of Inland Lakes

Our conference originally planned for Friday, March 13, 2020 that was to be held at Karoub Associates in downtown Lansing was cancelled due to the on-going COVID-19 crisis. Please know that Michigan Waterfront Alliance has every intention of attempting to reschedule the “economic contributions of inland lakes” conference for the Fall of 2020. Please “stay tuned” to this website and our future e-newsletters for information regarding our conference. In the meantime, stay healthy!!!


Michigan Waterfront Alliance presents a one-day conference dedicated to “Assessing the Value of the Contributions  of Inland Lakes to Michigan’s Economy” to be held at

Karoub Associates
121 W. Allegan Street
Lansing, Michigan

Michigan is graced with an aesthetically pleasing landscape that hosts over 11,000 inland lakes that provide our citizens and millions of visitors to our state with an extraordinary array of recreational and economic opportunities. In addition to providing vast opportunities for premium lakefront living lifestyles, our inland lakes also serve as the basis for the creation and sustenance of thousands of small businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs through Michigan’s highly successful tourism, resort, and recreational boating, fishing and hunting industries. Various informal, and likely outdated estimates of the value of the contribution of inland lakes to Michigan’s economy range from five to thirty billion dollars. Hindered by the fact that very few comprehensive studies have focused specifically on the value of the various contributions of our inland lakes to Michigan’s economy, our state legislators, and natural resource and environmental regulatory agencies are often hindered in their ability to effectively manage our vast wealth of inland lakes due to lack of valid data.

Due to venue restrictions, registration will be limited to 65 people.

Click here to download and view the conference agenda.

Register online below.


(You do not need a PayPal account to purchase a ticket.)

Economic Value of Michigan Inland Lakes Conference25.00 USDFriday, March 13, 2020 - Economic Value of Michigan Inland Lakes Conference
Your eTicket will be emailed after payment to your PayPal email address.

Elegant, and a Bit Exotic, The Only Sporadically Occurring C. sowerbii Adds A Little Mystery and Delight to Michigan’s Waters

Story and Photos by Scott Brown, MWA Board Member

Evoking expressions of surprise and delight, the initial experience of observing an only sporadically occurring swarm of ancient undulating freshwater jellyfish gracefully propelling themselves through the late summer warm waters of your favorite lake always seems to be a joyful one. Commonly referred to as “peach blossom fish” in their native China, words such as fascinating, graceful, elegant, and mysterious are often deployed by authors in their attempt to aptly describe the exotic freshwater jellyfish species known as Craspedacusta sowerbii that occasionally appears in Michigan waters.

A native of China’s Upper Yangtze River basin, the exponentially increasing pace of international trade that has occurred over the course of the past century has inadvertently led to the fact that C. sowerbii has now been observed on every continent on earth except Antarctica, and has become the most widely distributed freshwater jellyfish on earth. C. sowerbii and the nineteen other species of freshwater jellyfish are classified as hydrozoans, a class of small colonial or solitary predatory animals that are related to sea anemones and corals. Catalogued in England by naturalists in the 1880’s, C. sowerbii was first observed in Michigan waters in the 1930’s. C. sowerbii belongs to the Cnidaria, a diverse phylum of hydrozoans that contains over 11,000 marine and freshwater species whose exotic physical appearance is primarily defined by an umbrella-like radial symmetry.

Representing an extremely delicate and highly elastic gelatinous creature that is intolerant of intense wave action and fast-moving waters, the freshwater jellyfish species known as C. sowerbii that inhabits Michigan waters is most often observed floating or gracefully swimming near the surface in ponds, reservoirs, quarries, the slow-moving backwaters of rivers, and quiet wind-sheltered areas of inland lakes. Lacking a brain, heart, respiratory system, skeleton, and even blood, the relatively simple, delicate anatomy of C. sowerbii is comprised of a translucent bell-shaped outer layer known as the epidermis; a middle layer consisting of a thick, highly elastic, grayish-blue in color gelatinous substance that is referred to as the mesoglea; and, representing a simple digestive system that acts as both a stomach and intestine with just one opening that serves as both mouth and anus, an inner layer that is referred to as the gastrodermis which includes a crude stomach-like structure that is referred to as the manubrium. Circulation of nutrients within the ancient organism is facilitated by the existence of four radial canals that originate along the edges of the manubrium.

Freshwater jellyfish are known to possess a sense of smell, are able to detect light, and are capable of sensing and responding to near-by stimuli such as motion due to the existence of an elementary network of nerve cells that are widely distributed throughout their gelatinous body. The rim of their translucent bell-shaped epidermis is adorned with up to 400 relatively long tentacles that each possess thousands specialized cells called cnidocytes that are deployed by the organism to capture and pass prey consisting of tiny zooplankton to the opening of their gastrodermis. Drifting in the water column with its tentacles fully extended, jellyfish waits for suitable prey such as a tiny daphnia to come into contact with a tentacle. Once contact is made, nematocyst cells within the tentacle fire into the prey, injecting a tiny quantity of a powerful toxin that acts to paralyzes the animal, with the tentacle then acting to secure the prey by wrapping itself around the immobilized animal. It is important to note that stings by small freshwater jellyfish such as C. sowerbii produce only minor pain and often go unnoticed by swimmers due the miniscule amount of toxin that is injected as a result of contact with a tentacle. Mature C. sowerbii are capable of growing to a diameter of approximately 19 millimeters (penny-size), responding to the detection of stimuli such as near-by motion, however, the highly elastic gelatinous species is capable of instantaneously expanding its translucent epidermis to three times its normal diameter.

Beginning life as a tiny polyp attached to aquatic vegetation, rocks, or coarse woody debris, C. sowerbii and other species within the Cnidaria phylum possess a complex life cycle that allows them to expeditiously take advantage of the return of environmental conditions that are favorable to their survival and sustainability. In rare populations of C. sowerbii that possess both female and male individuals, the species is capable of achieving sustainability by alternating with each generation between reproducing sexually, with free floating sperm cells fertilizing eggs, and reproducing asexually by cloning themselves. Freshwater jellyfish are dimorphic, depending upon conditions, such as water temperature, the amount of light penetrating the surface, and/or food availability, freshwater jellyfish such as C. sowerbii are known to alternate between a polyp phase, a larval phase, and a relatively brief life in late summer as a sexually mature free-swimming male or female hydro-medusa. Freshwater jellyfish such as C. sowerbyi are known to spend much more time in existence as microscopic podocysts, frustules (larvae produced asexually by budding), planulae (larvae produced sexually by mature male and female hydromedusae), or as sessile polyps that attach themselves to stable submerged surfaces such as coarse woody debris and rocks. It is important to note that the vast majority of C. sowerbii colonies are comprised of all-male or all-female individuals, therefore rendering the species almost completely dependent upon asexual reproductive processes for long-term survival.

Intolerant of the cold-water temperatures that are present in northern temperate waters in late fall, winter, spring, and early summer, the most abundant colonies of mature hydro-medusa phase C. sowerbii are observed as late summer water temperatures reach their maximum in August and September. Most often observed floating or swimming near the surface on bright sunny days, the mature hydro-medusa phase of C. sowerbii comes to an end with the gradual emergence of cold-water temperatures. During the winter months when northern temperate water bodies are frozen over, C. sowerbii contracts and enters a long period of dormancy as resting bodies called podocysts. Once environmental conditions become favorable, they again enter the polyp phase that later in the summer leads to the formation of a mature hydro-medusa.

Michigan Waterfront Alliance Board of Directors Passes Resolution Supporting ‘Fair and Balanced’ Legislation that Would Enable Continued Local Government Regulation of Short Term Rentals


1. We want our Michigan elected representatives at the state level to continue to support the ability of local governments (townships, villages, cities, and other entities) to be able to make zoning and enforcement decisions at the local level concerning the operation, permitting, and control of people visiting short term rentals and Airbnb-type rentals of private homes. Thus, we are in general opposition to House Bill 4046, AS CURRENTLY WRITTEN, and similar Michigan legislative bills, which would make state-wide decisions that eliminate or significantly limit local zoning control of residential housing used for short term or Airbnb-type rentals.

2. We hereby ask the Michigan legislature to continue to study the short-term rental (Airbnb-type) of residential housing issue and work toward fair and balanced bill(s) which would allow for limited short-term rentals in Michigan and still enable local government zoning control. We would also like our elected representatives to be aware of the fact that expanded short term (Airbnb-type) rentals of residential homes carry the potential of adding additional burdens on local government with no additional revenues.

Download and Read Proposed Short Term Rental Legislation

House Bill 4046

House Bill 4554

House Bill 4555

House Bill 4556

A Sampling of Articles Focused on Michigan’s Current Short
Term Rental Legislation Controversy

Michigan Municipal League

Short Term Rental Legislation Quickly Reintroduced in New Term

Posted on January 25, 2019 by Jennifer Rigterink

Last week House Bill 4046 was introduced to amend the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act. This legislation is the same bill introduced last term (House Bill 4503). If passed, it would:

  • Eliminate a local unit of government’s ability to regulate short-term rentals (defined in the bill as a rental of 28 days or less).
  • Mandate all short-term rentals are a residential use of property, permitted in all residential zones.
  • Eliminate the ability for additional regulations (i.e. special use or conditional use permits, rental registration, inspections, etc.) for short-term rentals unless all dwellings (i.e. owner occupied) in the zone are also subject to the requirements.

The legislation puts in place a preemption upsetting the balance between and healthy local economy, property rights and an established, transparent process for zoning. The Michigan Zoning Enabling Act lays out the process for local governments to draft regulation driven by public input through an open process. House Bill 4046 undermines local government decision making and removes the voice of local stakeholders, rendering local government powerless to act. It would eliminate the ability of local government to regulate short term rentals in residential neighborhoods negatively impacting property values and quality of life.

To read more of the article, click here

The Detroit News

Lawmakers seek to end local bans on vacation rentals

Beth LeBlanc, The Detroit News Published 5:45 a.m. ET May 7, 2019 | Updated 9:59 a.m. ET May 7, 2019

Local bans on short-term rentals in Michigan could be barred themselves under controversial legislation being considered by a Republican-controlled state House committee.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jason Sheppard, R-Temperance, said the local zoning rules created to ban short-term rentals such as those available through Airbnb, Homeaway and VRBO infringe on private property rights and are an abuse of Michigan’s Zoning Enabling Act.

To read more of this article, click here

The Lansing State Journal

East Lansing pushing back on state proposal to limit regulations on Airbnb, other short-term rentals

Megan Banta, Lansing State Journal Published 6:30 a.m. ET May 9, 2019

EAST LANSING — Local officials are pushing back on a state proposal that would bar communities from banning Airbnb and other short-term rental options.

The bill, if passed, would ban communities from prohibiting short-term rentals through local zoning rules.

Officials in East Lansing don’t prohibit short-term rentals, but the bill might impact the way they currently regulate them through permits. They also have concerns about how other parts of the proposed law could impact local rules.

To read more of this article, click here

Detroit Free Press

New Buffalo official: On-line home rentals became ‘Animal House’ situations

Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press Published 8:00 a.m. ET May 29, 2019 | Updated 9:26 a.m. ET May 29, 2019

New Buffalo, the first stop for many visitors to Michigan entering from Indiana on eastbound I-94, calls itself the “Gateway of Michigan” and has long been a summer getaway for Midwest vacationers.

But last month, after much discussion, the city joined other municipalities that have added rules for residents using online rental services like Airbnb and HomeAway to rent out their homes.

“We had a number of residents complain about some short-term rentals in town,” David Richards, New Buffalo’s city manager, said last week as he headed to his own Memorial Day vacation in Las Vegas. “They were having late-night parties, pool parties, and kind of like ‘Animal House’ situations going on.”

To read more of this article, click here

AP News

Proposed Michigan bills address short-term rentals

Noah Hausmann

March 10, 2019

Which should come first, a city ordinance or a state law?

In Michigan, the issue of short-term rentals has been controversial in several communities, as websites like Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway have gained popularity in many vacation spots worldwide.

These websites collect fees for connecting property owners with vacationers, who want to short-term rent their room, house or apartment, rather than stay in a traditional rental unit, such as a hotel.

Short-term renting residences blurs the line between homes and vacation properties, and some people are concerned about factors such as the impact on the traditional rental industry, the availability of long-term rental housing and the effects of having a greater transient population.

To read more of this article, click here

On the Moody Market

Mi Restaurant and Lodging Association Backs New Legislation to Regulate Short Term Rentals

By Pat Moody | Posted May 2, 2019 | Upon Further Review

In a bid to find solutions for the seemingly never-ending issues over short-term rentals in communities from Harbor Country to St. Joe, South Haven and elsewhere across the Great Lakes State, the Michigan Legislature is taking up a 10-bill package to help regulate the future. It didn’t take long for the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association — MRLA — to get on board with the proposed legislation.

House Bills 4554 through 4563, introduced into the State House of Representatives today, attempt to address the growing concerns with largely unregulated expansions in short-term rental properties across the state, and the MRLA has immediately thrown strong support behind the 10-bill package. Justin Winslow is President & CEO of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association. He says, “The hospitality industry, like so many others, is changing rapidly amid a generation of technological disruption,” and argues, “As the lines between hotels and short-term rentals begin to blur, it is increasingly important that we enact a fair and responsive regulatory structure that ensures the safety of all of our guests, regardless of where they stay.”

To read more of this article, click here

Bridge Magazine

Short term rental advocates, foes work toward a deal on laws in Michigan

by Lindsay Van Hulle(Bridge)

Michigan policymakers are again working to regulate short-term rentals such as those on sites like Airbnb, as they try to balance neighborhood concerns with private property rights.

But unlike previous attempts in Lansing, legislators are enlisting the help of groups that have fought on opposite sides of the issue.

Since the spring, a group of local government advocates, hotel representatives and real estate agents -‒ all with strong, often conflicting stances on how to manage the growing short-term rental industry -‒ has met to find middle ground.

To read more of this article, click here

The Manchester Mirror

August 19, 2019

Freedom Township Declares Pleasant Lake Airbnb in Violation of Ordinance

Freedom Township Board met for its monthly meeting on Tuesday, August 13th. Many residents came to present their complaints about 5202 Happy Hollow, which has recently become a short-term rental listed on The board agreed with the residents and unanimously voted to have the township lawyer inform the owners of the home that their commercial use was in violation of township ordinances and needed to cease immediately. The board also agreed to direct its lawyer to inform the owner of any other relevant ordinance violations.

To read more of this article, click here