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Temporary Campgrounds

Part 125, Sections 12501 through 12516 of the Public Health Code, 1978 PA 368, as amended, requires a campground license when five or more recreational units (i.e., tents, campers, RVs) are placed on a parcel or tract of land and are used for temporary living quarters. Rule 5 of the Campground Administrative Rules entitled "Temporary campgrounds; application for license; operational period" allows a license to be issued for a short-term camping event. Temporary campground licenses are commonly issued in conjunction with other events such as festivals, fairs, races, and holidays. A temporary campground license issued by the Local Health Department (LHD) having jurisdiction is required prior to operating a temporary campground.

For convenience, a PDF version of the Steps for Obtaining a Temporary Campground License shown below is available to download.

Obtaining a temporary campground license

Step 1:
Contact your local health department

Please call or visit your local health department to obtain the duplicate application form entitled “License Application to Operate a Temporary Campground in Michigan” (EQP1717).

Step 2:
Submit an application to your local health department

Submit the completed application to the LHD having jurisdiction at least 14 days prior to the event.

Include the applicable fees (the state license portion plus the local inspection fee), a site plan, current water sample results, signed contracts for services to be provided (i.e., potable water service, portable privies, garbage, etc.), and any additional information requested on a case-by-case basis dependent on the operation.

The site plan should indicate the location, size and numbering identification system of all campsites, campground roads, buildings, privies, wells, garbage storage facilities, and any other facilities available at the temporary campground.

The LHDs are entitled to collect fees for services provided, such as inspections. Contact your LHD for their inspection fee information. The state fees for a temporary campground license are as follows:

State of Michigan Fee Schedule for Temporary Campground Licenses Effective through 2023, 2024, and 2025

Number of Sites in Temporary Campground State Portion of Fees
1-25 sites $109
26-50 sites $146
51-75 sites $184
76-100 sites $221
101-500 sites $330
501 or more sites $734

Step 3:
Notify the local municipality

Notify the township, village, or city that a temporary campground is proposed. The local unit of government may require special zoning approval or may have ordinances regarding camping or mass gatherings.

Step 4:
LHD review of application

The LHD will review the “License Application to Operate a Temporary Campground in Michigan” form and other submittals and will work with the applicant to resolve questions or concerns. In many cases, the facilities and services will not be onsite until a day or so before the temporary camping event. However, the applicant must provide the LHD with evidence, such as current water sample results and service contracts, confirming that all necessary facilities and services will be provided at the temporary campground. The LHD having jurisdiction will not issue the license until the applicant can provide such evidence and typically after conducting a site inspection.

Step 5:
Upon issuance, post license

Upon the issuance of the temporary campground license, the LHD will provide a copy of the license to the owner to post in a conspicuous location and then submit a copy to EGLE. The applicant shall post the issued license in a visible location prior to receiving recreational units.

The applicant is responsible for ensuring that all recreational units are situated in a manner that provides a minimum four-foot-wide unobstructed path around each unit and that each campsite is clearly numbered or identified, both for emergency response purposes.

The license covers the period specified on the application. A temporary campground shall be operated for no more than a two-week period unless written approval for an extension is obtained from the LHD. To request an extension, contact the LHD for assistance at least three (3) days before the expiration date of the initial license. A temporary campground cannot operate for more than a four-week period. At least 30 days must pass between a licensing period before another temporary campground license can be issued at the same location.

Step 6:
Additional items to consider

There are two types of campsites - modern and primitive. Primitive campsites are served by privies. Modern campsites are served by flush toilets in a service building and/or each campsite has a sewer connection. The following table indicates the minimum required sanitary facilities for a temporary campground:

Type of Temporary Campsite Number of Water Outlets Service Building Fixtures Number of Privies
Primitive 1 for every 50 sites, or fraction thereof Not applicable 1 for each sex for every 25 sites, or fraction thereof or 2 unisex privies for every 30 sites, or fraction thereof
Modern 1 for every 50 sites, or fraction thereof Meets Rule 21 fixture schedule requirements Not applicable
  • A temporary campground with a water supply under pressure will require a sanitary station or an approved alternative (Rules 5.2, 26) by the LHD for the disposal of holding tank waste.
  • A vault privy or portable privy cannot be located within 50 feet of a campsite boundary.

Temporary campgrounds may be held in conjunction with other events such as festivals, fairs, races, and holidays. In this case, there may be people at the event other than campers. Sanitary facilities are, of course, required for the attendees as well as those who intend to camp. Facilities may serve both the campground and the other event as long as there are an adequate number of facilities, and the facilities are located in close proximity to the camping area.

A sufficient number of garbage and refuse storage containers shall be located conveniently for the campers' use. Garbage and refuse must be removed from the property at least once per week, or as often as necessary, and disposed of in accordance with all local and state laws. The burning of garbage and refuse is not allowed.

All electrical work, whether temporary or permanent, must be installed by a licensed electrician under an electrical permit issued by the state or local electrical authority. All electrical work must be inspected and approved by the local or state electrical inspector prior to use.

An EGLE Campground Construction Permit must be obtained when permanent onsite water supply and/or onsite sewage disposal facilities are to be provided, or when other permanent campground facilities are planned. To obtain a construction permit, submit an “EGLE Application for Campground Construction Permit” (EQP1716), which is provided on our webpage, the permit fee, and three sets of plans to EGLE. A copy of a LHD site evaluation is recommended to address potential limitations. If the total cost of the project is more than $15,000, an engineer, licensed in the State of Michigan, shall prepare all plans for the new or existing campground facilities.