Michigan Land Use Institute

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Yours to Protect


April 1, 2001 | By Jim Lively
and Patty Cantrell
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

Lazy days at the beach are a central part of Michigan’s soul. With more coastline than any state but Alaska, Michigan is a land of people who build sand castles, who watch sunsets on a regular basis, and who savor memories of walking the water’s edge collecting stones or sitting by a bonfire under the stars.

Because the shoreline draws people, however, it also draws bulldozers, which make way for homes that overlook the vast inland seas that surround this state. Some owners build homes with respect for the quiet, wild, magical shoreline. Too often, however, those who build homes on the coasts of the Great Lakes bring their familiar landscapes with them. They build concrete patios on top of coastal marshes, clearcut trees for straight-shot views, and blast driveways through dunes.

This kind of development harms the natural environment, the local economies that rely on clean water and land, and neighboring residents who want a natural shoreline. Property values decline as backyards sprawl onto dunes and porch lights hide the stars. Wild animals that once roamed coastal woodlands and wetlands retreat to less disturbing places. Stormwater, which rushes off new roofs and driveways, erodes bluffs and contaminates the water.

Coastal communities are now taking it upon themselves to set and maintain standards for development along their hometown shorelines. This booklet describes the tools you, too, can use to uphold your community’s shoreline values.

All photos by Patrick Owen unless otherwise noted.

Michigan Land Use Institute

148 E. Front Street, Suite 301
Traverse City, MI 49684-5725
p (231) 941-6584 
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