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Critical Dunes and High Risk Erosion Site Evaluations

Lake Michigan sand dunes are part of the largest system of freshwater dunes in the world. There are about 225,000 acres of sand dunes in Michigan. In 1989, the Michigan government designated approximately 74,000 of those acres as Critical Dune areas. These areas are the tallest, most spectacular dunes along Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.

High Risk Erosion areas are those shorelands of the Great Lakes where recession of the landward edge of active erosion has been occurring at a long-term average rate of one foot or more per year. This erosion can be caused by several factors such as high water levels, storms, wind, ground water seepage, surface water runoff, and frost. There are High Risk Erosion areas in 36 of 41 coastal counties in Michigan.

Critical Dune Site Evaluations

Properties located in the Critical Dune area require a permit from EGLE for almost all activities. Some existing site conditions can make obtaining an EGLE permit difficult.

We recommend a preliminary site evaluation of properties within the Critical Dune area to determine the feasibility of a proposed project.

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High Risk Erosion Site Evaluations

A permit is required from EGLE for the construction of all roofed structures and septic systems within the High Risk Erosion area. Each High Risk Erosion area along the shoreline has been given a specific 30-year and 60-year setback distance. 

Onsite evaluations of properties within High Risk Erosion areas are necessary to determine the current location of these setbacks. The setback locations dictate the permittable location of a home and septic system and can impose restrictions on the design of a home or addition to an existing home.

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