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St. Clair Flats

St. Clair River delta aerial
Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

St. Clair Flats

Part 339, Control of Certain State Lands, of the NREPA (formerly the St. Clair Flats Act, PA 326 of 1913 as amended), authorizes EGLE and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to convert leases for certain bottomland lots in Lake St. Clair to deeds, if the lot meets certain conditions. These lots are in an area of Lake St. Clair on and around Harsen’s Island popularly known as the St. Clair Flats.  The Flats is a large coastal marsh at the mouth of the St. Clair River that provides critical habitat for migratory waterfowl, wading birds, sport and forage fish, muskrats, and other aquatic life.

The DNR developed the St. Clair Flats Management Plan in 1979 to provide a sound basis for future management decisions concerning the protection of this unique area for the benefit of the general public. A second objective of the plan is to provide greater certainty to leaseholders that the State is committed to honoring the leases entered into in good faith by private individuals until the lease is either converted to a deed or the lease expires and the land reverts to State ownership. The Management Plan also provides incentives so that developed structures will be well maintained and proper sanitary facilities will be installed.

EGLE conducts the same public trust review before issuing deeds and construction permits for these bottomlands in the Flats as required under Part 325, Great Lakes Submerged Lands, of the NREPA.


Part 339 was amended in 2006 to provide the authority to issue deeds for developed lots in the Flats. The law assigns EGLE and the DNR separate roles in the process to convert a lease to a deed. EGLE accepts and reviews deed applications to determine whether the land is eligible for a deed, and forwards complete applications to DNR, which issues the deed for a lot that meets the following criteria:

  • The entire lot is not submerged or below the elevation of 575.3 feet International Great Lakes Datum 1985. Any portion of a leased lot that is submerged or below the elevation of 575.3 feet International Great Lakes Datum 1985 is not eligible to be included in a deed granted under Part 339.
  • Buildings, other structures on the property, and the lot subject to the deed meet current Clay Township building codes and St. Clair County and State sanitation codes. Seawalls and other structures meet the requirements of Part 325, Great Lakes Submerged Lands, of NREPA.
  • The property is protected from erosion.  If there are portions of the property that are at or above the elevation of 575.3 feet International Great Lakes Datum 1985 that are not protected from erosion, contact the EGLE Water Resources Division for a determination of whether a deed can be issued and for information on construction permits for shore protection.
  • All taxes on the land are paid.

An application for a deed must be received prior to the lease expiration date and must be submitted through MiEnviro, EGLE Water Resources Division’s online permitting site.  A submitted application must include, at a minimum, a signed application form and payment of the filing fee.  EGLE may request additional information necessary to complete the application after it is submitted.  Items necessary to complete a deed application form can be found below.  The status of applications as well as current Public Notices and Hearing Notices can be searched and viewed in  MiEnviro.

A complete deed application must include:

  • Documentation that the applicant is the legal leaseholder, such as a current lease assignment.
  • Metes-and-bounds survey of the portion of the parcel protected from erosion (for example, by a seawall or rock rip rap). The survey must be done by a registered land surveyor and show the location of the water's edge and the ordinary high water mark (575.3 feet International Great Lakes Datum 1985) at the time of the survey along any portion of the lot that is natural shoreline or not protected from erosion. Contact the EGLE Water Resources Division regarding questions about this requirement.
  • Approval from the St. Clair County Health Department for the sanitary waste disposal system.
  • Completed “Application for St. Clair Flats Deed (Part 339)” form in MiEnviro.
  • Application fee of $500.00.

Instructions on how to start a new application for a deed in MiEnviro and how to fill out the deed application form online can be found below. 

How to Start a New Application for St. Clair Flats Deed

Please note that processing the complete deed application may take six months or more.

If EGLE approves the complete deed application, the fair market value of the land to be deeded must be paid in full no later than one year after the applicant is notified of the selling price.  The sale price is based upon Clay Township's estimated land value as determined by the Assessor's Office.  EGLE recommends that the applicant provide a copy of the metes-and-bounds survey noted above to the Assessor's Office so that they have an accurate description of the parcel.  This updated property description will be used to calculate the value of the State's ownership interest. 

The DNR issues the deed for the land upon payment of the full sale price, and EGLE records the deed with the St. Clair County Register of Deeds. Failure of the applicant to pay the full sale price within one year results in EGLE permanently closing the application file.

A copy of the 2006 amendments to Part 339 can be found here. 


Part 339 also requires that before selling or transferring a leased property in the Flats, the parties involved shall submit a lease assignment application to EGLE for approval of the transfer of the lease.  An application fee of $250.00 is also required.  Upon approval by EGLE, the assignment form will be recorded with the St. Clair County Register of Deeds.  Please contact EGLE Water Resources Division for a lease assignment form.