Property owners on the Great Lakes can now groom their beaches without permission from the state. The governor has signed a law. Environmental groups say it will hurt the lakes.
A federal permit is still required, but before this week a property owner needed a permit from the state to mow or rake the beach near the water’s edge. A property rights group based in Bay City fought that requirement for years and finally prevailed with lawmakers in Lansing.
Conservation groups say vegetation along the edge of the Great Lakes is important for fish and other species, and when plants are mowed down it hurts the ecosystem.
They also say invasive plants, including phragmites, actually spread if you cut them. The root system of phragmites puts out new shoot when it’s cut, and those shoots can be a few feet underground.
A number of townships in northern Michigan spray the shoreline to kill phragmites. An earlier version of the beach grooming bill would have prohibited local governments from running those kinds of programs. But state Representative Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, put through an amendment which allows programs to continue.