*** NATURAL RESOURCES COMMISSION POLICY ***
2706 - SAND
DUNE MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION - DEPARTMENT OPERATIONS
Issued June 14, 1985
SAND DUNE MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION - DEPARTMENT OPERATIONS
The coastal sand dune formations that parallel portions of Michigan's Great Lake shoreline are a fragile and irreplaceable part of our natural heritage. Michigan's dunes collectively represent the world's largest accumulation of sand bordering a body of fresh water. The shoreline is marked with broad sandy beaches, low shore foredunes, massive dune bluffs - some open and desert-like, others stabilized with a rich hardwood forest cover. Nature has shaped and reshaped the Great Lakes region, fashioning the coastal zone that skirts the lakeshores. Here one finds a range of landscapes: wetlands, rocky outcroppings, beach ridges, and plateaus. But nowhere is the sculpting of natural forces more evident than in the dunes themselves.
These natural features are of significant importance to the state's economy because the superb scenic and aesthetic values of "duneland" serve as an attraction for the tourist industry, as do the opportunities for water-oriented recreation, hiking, camping, and nature study. In some cases, this rugged environmental setting is the last refuge for unique assemblages of plants and animals.
A broad variety of land use practices have continued over years past thereby creating various degrees of environmental impacts on these fragile geomorphic features. In certain instances, these practices have impaired, damaged, or destroyed the structural function and integrity of sand dune systems.
Michigan's sand dune formations are truly a valuable, irreplaceable, and extremely sensitive natural resource. The forces of nature that created these features shall, most likely, not be repeated.
Therefore, management decisions of the Department shall be guided by the primary objective of protecting these resources for the long-term enjoyment and use of present, as well as, future generations. The purpose of this Policy is to guide the - operations and public land management activities of the Department of Natural Resources in sand dunes.
The Department of Natural Resources recognizes that Michigan's sand dune formations exhibit characteristics which are unique in the world. It is vitally important to protect Michigan's sand dunes for present and future generations. In accord with the following policy statements, Department operations shall respect Michigan's dune formations and make every effort to manage, protect, enhance, and preserve their natural character. In addition, the Department shall take all necessary steps to encourage development of inland sand for industrial purposes in lieu of coastal sand reserves. The Department shall make every effort to determine feasible and prudent alternative mining locations for sites within designated sand dune areas for which new permit applications may be received.
The term "designated sand dune area" which is used in this Policy, means land designated by the Department pursuant to Section 2 of Act No. 222 of the Public Acts of 1976. "Sand dune lands" means land within designated sand dune areas.
1. Acquisition and Disposal of Land.
a. Acquisition: The Department shall place a high priority on the acquisition of sand dune formations which lie within designated sand dune areas, including the acquisition of mineral rights where the State of Michigan only owns the surface rights. The factors listed in paragraph b, Offers and Suggestions for Acquisition, shall be used to determine the suitability of land for Department acquisition.
b. Offers and Suggestions for Acquisitions: The Department shall consider all offers of land or suggestions for acquisition within designated sand dune areas. A special committee composed of representatives of all land managing divisions as well as those administering programs which affect sand dune areas shall be given an opportunity to review and comment on the proposed acquisitions and disposals of land within designated sand dune areas.
Factors to consider when reviewing acquisition through gift, exchange or purchase shall include:
- length of water frontage
- quality of natural features in relation to other dune areas in public and private ownership
- potential as a recreational resource
- proximity to urban areas
- proximity of other public owned land
- presence of threatened/endangered species or plant communities
- threat of development
- cultural and historical significance
- other factors as may be appropriate.
For those parcels which exhibit several of the above factors, the Department shall pursue acquisition regardless of parcel size, except where the director has recommended, and the Natural Resources Commission has agreed that acquisition should not be pursued.
c. Disposal: The Department may dispose of land within designated sand dune areas through sale, exchange, or lease by specific Commission action only if one or more of the following criteria is met:
1) It is demonstrated that the land in question does not exhibit the natural elements characteristic of significant sand dune formations, and it is not part of a larger sand dune management unit.
2) The land is not part of a sand dune management unit and it is too small to be effectively administered by the Department with little prospect for expansion of public ownership in the future.
3) The owner or lessee of the land will be a governmental unit and enforceable protections are accepted which will guarantee protection of the land to an equal or greater degree than under Department administration.
4) The Commission finds that the requested use of the land is of such critical importance to public welfare that it outweights the benefits derived from state ownership. A decision to dispose of land on the basis of this criteria shall only be made after opportunity for public comment.
Where the Department has initiated the proposal for disposal of land within a designated sand dune area, it shall be required that the land be offered first to a governmental agency, unit of government, or non-profit organization (only exchanges are permitted) which will accept conveyance conditions which will protect the sand dune character of the land. It may be required where the Department has initiated the proposal that disposal only be made under the conditions of this paragraph.
In considering proposals to dispose of land within a designated sand dune area, the purpose and intent of this Policy shall be recognized, as well as the Commission's responsibility to protect environmentally sensitive lands.
2. Management of Sand Dune Land.
a. Division Procedures and Standards: All division procedures and management standards for state owned land within designated sand dune areas shall be developed or revised to be consistent with this Policy.
b. Management Objectives: In establishing management objectives for state owned sand dune lands, the Department shall recognize a wide range of purposes of maintaining sand dunes in public ownership. The purposes may range from the protection of sensitive features with strict limitations on any human disruption, to the provision of opportunities for intensive recreational activities. The management objectives for sand dune lands and the corresponding intensity of use shall be established on the principle that the amount of human disruption should decrease in proportion to the significance of the sand dune features, with intensive use directed to sand dune areas of lesser significance or sensitivity. Decisions on amount of significance and sensitivity shall be based on criteria to be developed by the Department staff and approved by the Natural Resources Commission.
c. Management Plans: Lands in designated sand dune areas administered by the Department shall be grouped into management units, with administrative responsibility for a unit assigned to a Division in the Department. A management plan shall be developed for each management unit. The plan shall establish the management objectives for the sand dune management unit; the values both natural and social which are being protected or maximized through the management objectives; development plans for the unit, including maps showing facility locations; and construction and use guidelines. The plan shall be developed with formal opportunity for participation by other Divisions in the Department/ affected governmental agencies and local units of government, and citizens. The plan for each unit shall be adopted by the Natural Resources Commission.
d. Use and Construction Activities: The use of sand dune lands and all construction activities shall be sensitive to the characteristics of particular sand dune area, its quality of natural features in relation to other dune areas in private and public ownership, and vulnerability to permanent damage. Use and construction activities shall be consistent with the management plan for the land.
3. Department Administered Grants and Financial Assistance.
The Department administers a number of financial assistance programs which provide money to local governments, agencies and organizations for a wide range of activities from park development to sewer construction. The activities from park development to sewer construction. The activities enabled by grants and other financial assistance or guarantees can have direct and indirect effects on sand dune lands. Consistent with the applicable statutes, grants and other financial assistance or guarantees awarded by the Department shall recognize the intent of this policy and minimize direct and indirect impact on sensitive dune areas.
4. Research, Education and Technical Assistance.
The Department shall actively pursue opportunities for research into the environmental qualities of sand dunes which has application to educational programs, technical assistance, regulatory programs, land management plans, and decisions on acquisition and disposal.
Through the diverse programs offered by the Department, opportunities shall be identified and exercised to implement educational programs and publications concerning Michigan's sand dunes.
The Department shall identify and publicize a source of technical assistance where government agencies, local governments, and citizens may receive advice concerning the sensitivities and values of sand dune areas, regulatory standards, and proper construction techniques which will minimize damage.
5. Commission Policies.
The Department shall review all Commission policies which affect sand dunes and recommend revisions to the Commission which are necessary for consistency with this Policy.