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State Facts

Miles of Coast: 3,224

Coastal Population (2000): 4,680,503

Lead Coastal Management Agency: Department of the Environment

Approval Date: 1978

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Ocean and Coastal Management in Michigan

Big Sable Lighthouse, Michigan

The Michigan Coastal Management Program played a key role in establishing the Michigan Lighthouse project, which works to preserve 77 Great Lakes lighthouses that are no longer needed for federal navigation purposes.

Michigan's Coastal Program

Michigan’s Coastal Management Program was approved in 1978. The program is administered by the Department of the Environment. Michigan’s coastal boundary generally, extends a minimum of 1,000 feet inland from the ordinary high water mark. The boundary extends further inland in some locations to encompass important coastal features such as lakes, bays, wetlands, dunes, urban areas, public recreational parks, and natural areas.

With coastline on four Great Lakes, Michigan has the world's largest freshwater coastline. The unique mix of shore geography found on each of the Great Lakes’ shorelines provides an important habitat for numerous plant and animal species. Coastal waters supply municipal drinking water, recreational boating opportunities, and maritime shipping opportunities.

The Coastal Program works closely with local communities to encourage responsible growth and development along the coast, improve public access to the coast, and protect sensitive coastal resources. The Land and Water Management Division of the Michigan DEQ also administers the program’s regulatory authorities, including programs regulating development in Michigan’s sand dunes, high risk erosion areas, flood plains, and flood risk areas. Other key coastal statutes protect Michigan’s public trust bottomlands, wetlands, coastal lakes, and sensitive coastal habitats. The Coastal Program also manages coastal activities such as shipwreck salvaging, building piers and marinas, development, and changes to the coast.

Program Achievements

Michigan Ecological Corridors Protect Wildlife Movement and Water Quality

Preserving Michigan's Lighthouses


Michigan Coastal Management Program — The website provides information on the Program including information on its permitting, coastal planning and technical assistance programs.

Thunder Bay Sanctuary — Established in 2000, the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve maintains stewardship over one of the nation's most historically significant collection of shipwrecks.

Marine Protected Areas — Search for marine protected areas in Michigan.

Michigan Coastal Nonpoint Program Conditional Approval Documents —The Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program encourages better coordination between state and coastal zone managers and water quality experts to reduce polluted runoff in the coastal zone.

Michigan Coastal Program Evaluation (2006) — The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management conducts periodic performance reviews of federally approved state coastal management programs.

Michigan Coastal Zone Enhancement Program Assessment and Strategy (2011-2016) — Every five years, the Coastal Zone Management Act encourages states and territories to conduct self-evaluations of their coastal management programs to assess significant changes in the state’s coastal resources and management practices, identify critical needs, and prioritize areas for enhancement under the Coastal Zone Enhancement Program.

Michigan Clean Marina Program — This website provides information on the state’s clean marina certification program, a voluntary, incentive-based program that encourages marinas to adopt environmentally-friendly practices to protect coastal waters.

Contact Information for Michigan’s Program

Coastal Program Unit
Department of Environmental Quality
Land and Water Management Division
Constitution Hall
525 West Allegan St.
PO Box 30458
Lansing, MI 48909
(517) 335-3456