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Learn About Inland Lakes and Streams
Learn About Inland Lakes and Streams
Did you know? Michigan has over 36,000 miles of streams, and more than 11,000 lakes and ponds.
These precious water resources and the benefits they provide are protected by several state laws from impairment due to pollution, physical alterations and nuisance aquatic species. The state's water resources are monitored by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and partnering organizations to determine the water quality, the quantity and quality of aquatic habitat, the health of aquatic communities, and compliance with state laws.
Aquatic Invasive Species
How is my water quality monitored?
Inland Lakes monitoring strategy
How's my waterway?
Get involved with your water quality
Frequently Asked Questions
What's an inland lake?Inland lake means a natural or artificial lake, pond, impoundment, or a part of 1 of those bodies of water.
The term "Inland lake" does not include the Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair, or a lake or pond that has a surface area of less than 5 acres.
What's a watershed?Watersheds catch, store, and release water. When rain falls or snow melts, the water flows downhill, collecting into wetlands, small streams, and drainages, which then feed streams, rivers, lakes, and recharge groundwater. In Michigan, these waters then flow into or connect to one of the Great Lakes. The land area that collects the water that feeds a body of water is called a watershed.
What is Part 301?
When reading about inland lakes and streams on our website, you may see the words "Part 301" a lot. Part 301 is a part of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.
It covers inland lakes and streams, meaning any natural or artificial lake, pond, impoundment, river, stream, or creek, or any other body of water that has definite banks, a bed, and visible evidence of a continued flow or continued occurrence of water, including the St. Marys, St. Clair, and Detroit rivers.
Typical projects regulated under Part 301
Shore Protection: Because shore protection structures can have negative effects on natural resources and other shoreline properties, shore protection structures should only be installed when they are needed to address erosion problems and the type of shore protection used should be carefully considered. Because of these negative effects of vertical walls EGLE recommends the use of natural shoreline treatments. New shoreline hardening should be avoided where alternate approaches such as plantings and natural stone can be used to protect property from erosion. The purpose and benefits of plantings/stone are to provide a natural transition between the open water and upland, while providing habitat.
Permanent Docks or Permanent Boat Hoists: Permanent docks or boat hoists which are left in year around require a permit. Seasonal docks and hoists do not require a permit if they are for private, non-commercial use by a landowner, do not unreasonable interfere with the use of the water by others, do not interfere with water flow and will not be placed in wetlands.
Beach Sanding: Placement of sand, pea stone, or other clean fill below (waterward) of the water line requires a permit. A reasonable amount of sand may be placed landward of the water line without a permit as long as the sand does not shift the location of the existing ordinary high water mark or the shoreline contour. The sand cannot be placed in a wetland.
Dredging or Excavation: Any dredging below (waterward) of the ordinary high water mark of a lake or stream requires a permit. Dredging of a pond within 500 feet of a lake or stream also requires a permit. A permit is needed for any excavation where the purpose is enlargement of or ultimate connection with an existing lake or stream.