June 12, 2019
The sand dunes in Michigan are a unique natural resource found nowhere else in the world. Collectively, they represent the largest assemblage of freshwater dunes. Unique to Michigan is the combination of geography, plants, and climate that created the dunes.
Sand dunes support many habitats from temperate forests of maple and hemlock, to the harsh environment of the open dunes, to quiet interdunal ponds teeming with life. The Pictured Rocks Grand Sable Dunes, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and many state parks along Great Lakes shorelines feature sand dunes and their many habitats.
In Michigan, there are approximately 225,000 acres of dunes, of which approximately 74,000 acres were designated as Critical Dune Areas in 1989. Critical dune areas represent the tallest and most spectacular dunes along Lake Michigan's shoreline in the lower and upper peninsulas and the shores of Lake Superior.
Critical dune areas include public lands and private properties where proposed activities that will impact the dunes are regulated by state law. Building a structure, adding onto an existing structure, installing a septic system, and logging are a few of the activities that require a permit from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. Great care is taken to lawfully maintain the dune resource and accommodate the property owner's project.
The most fragile areas of Michigan's dunes are being protected while balancing development with the benefits of access and enjoyment. Using construction methods to protect the dunes are essential to dune preservation. Information about the Critical Dune Areas Program is available at Michigan.gov/CriticalDunes.