DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES  
FOREST MANAGEMENT DIVISION  
UTILITIES AND PUBLICLY PROVIDED FACILITIES  
IN DESIGNATED NATURAL RIVER AREAS  
(By authority conferred on the natural resources commission by section 15 of Act No.  
231 of the Public Acts of 1970, being S281.775 of the Michigan Compiled Laws)  
R 281.301 Definitions.  
Rule 1. As used in these rules:  
(a) "Act" means Act No. 231 of the Public Acts of 1970, being S281.761 et seq. of the  
Michigan Compiled Laws.  
(b) "Adopted natural river plan" means the river management plan adopted by the  
commission at the time of designation.  
(c) "Applicant" means a person, company, or unit of government applying for project  
approval pursuant to these rules.  
(d) "Commission" means the natural resources commission.  
(e) "Department" means the department of natural resources.  
(f) "Electric transmission line" means those conductors which operate above 30 kv,  
their necessary supporting or containing structures located outside of buildings, and  
the right-of-way used for transmitting a supply of electric energy.  
(g) "Natural river" means a river which has been designated by the commission for  
inclusion in the wild, scenic, and recreational rivers system.  
(h) "Natural river area" means the river, its bed, banks, and all lands lying within 400  
feet of the river's edge of the designated river.  
(i) "Natural vegetation strip" means an area not more than 100 feet wide on either side  
of, and parallel to, the river, where native vegetation is maintained to enhance the  
natural character of the river.  
(j) "Ordinary high-water mark" means the line between upland and bottomland  
which persists through successive changes in water levels, below which the presence  
and action of the water is so common or recurrent that the character of the land is  
marked distinctly from the upland and is apparent in the soil itself, the configuration of  
the surface of the soil, and the vegetation. On an inland lake which has a level  
established by law, it means the high established level. Where water returns to its  
natural level as a result of the permanent removal or abandonment of a dam, it means  
the natural ordinary high-water mark.  
(k) "Person" means any individual, partnership, corporation, association,  
political subdivision of the state, the department or other instrumentality or agency of  
the state, political subdivision thereof or other legal entity.  
(l) "Pipeline" means any pipeline, including flow lines and transmission lines used to  
transport oil, gas, brine, sewage, or water, or conduits for electricity or communications  
Page 1  
from one facility to another, including the right-of-way within which such facilities are  
located.  
(m) "Publicly provided facility" means a facility provided by  
a
public agency,  
including a federal, state, county, township, municipality, or other agency.  
(n) "River's edge" means ordinary high-water mark.  
(o) "Road" means any right-of-way that is provided for public motorized traffic.  
(p) "Utility" means any commercial entity which provides a public service, such  
as electric, communications, sewage, oil, gas, or water service.  
History: 1979 AC.  
R 281.302 Plans; application for approval; approval or denial within 60 days;  
exception.  
Rule 2. Plans for construction, enlargement, and site or route location of all utility  
pipelines and transmission lines, roads and road rights-of-way, publicly provided  
recreation facilities, access sites, and public water management projects within a  
natural river area shall be approved by the department. An application for the  
approval of such plans shall be submitted by the applicant, in writing, to the  
department. Approval or denial by the department shall be made within 60 days of  
receipt of the complete application, except where a public informational meeting is  
held pursuant to R 281.304(3).  
History: 1979 AC.  
R 281.303 Application for approval; contents.  
Rule 3. An application shall include all of the following:  
(a) Plans showing the proposed project or right-of-way in relation to the natural river  
area, the adjacent shoreline property and existing land uses within 500 feet of the  
proposed project and existing structures, existing utilities, pipelines, roads, and  
contour information depicting the topography of the site.  
(b) Plans showing prudent, feasible alternative routes or locations, and the reasons the  
route or site on the application was selected.  
(c) The names and addresses of riverfront property owners within 500 feet of the  
proposed project as shown on the current tax assessment rolls.  
(d) Other information which the department determines is necessary to complete an  
assessment of the proposed project.  
History: 1979 AC.  
R 281.304 Notice of application; permit application; copies; pre-filing conference;  
public informational meeting.  
Rule 4. (1) Within 10 days of the receipt of a completed application, the department  
shall give notice of the application to all riverfront property owners within 500 feet  
of the proposed use, as shown on the current tax assessment rolls, the respective  
Page 2  
clerks of the county and township in which the proposed use is to be located, the  
local soil erosion and sedimentation control enforcing agency, the local soil  
conservation district, and the local watershed council organized under either Act No.  
253 of the Public Acts of 1964, being S323.301 et seq. of the Michigan Compiled  
Laws, or Act No. 200 of the Public Acts of 1957, being S123.631 et seq. of the  
Michigan Compiled Laws, if any.  
(2) An applicant is encouraged to have a pre-filing conference with representatives  
of the department and other appropriate state and local officials prior to formal  
submission of their application.  
(3) The department may hold a public informational meeting on an application,  
upon written request of the general public or of 1 of those persons listed in subrule (1),  
within 30 days of the department's receipt of the complete application, when  
a
proposed project appears to be controversial, or where additional information is  
desired prior to action by the department. If the department determines a public  
informational meeting shall be held, it shall be scheduled within 60 days of the  
department's receipt of a complete application. The department shall make  
a
determination within 30 days following the meeting. All notification requirements  
of subrule (1) also apply to public informational meetings.  
(4) The department shall coordinate and take into consideration any responses or  
constructive suggestions offered by the general public and those agencies and persons  
identified in subrule (1).  
History: 1979 AC.  
R 281.305 Application; review.  
Rule 5. (1) The following general considerations shall be weighed when reviewing  
an application:  
(a) Effect on the environmental factors and ecological systems involved, such as effect  
on adjacent lands, waters, aesthetics, wildlife, fisheries, recreational, floodplain,  
vegetation, and historic and archaeological values.  
(b) Cumulative effect upon the natural river area from similar potential developments.  
(c) Alternatives available to the applicant.  
(d) Secondary effects likely to be caused or encouraged by the project, such as off-  
road vehicle use, horseback riding, or additional foot access which may lead to noise,  
erosion, water pollution, or disruption of aesthetic qualities.  
(e) Economic factors relating to costs of right-of-way acquisition, construction, and  
maintenance, and the need for additional facilities or resource protection measures in  
the approximate area in the future.  
(f) All other factors relevant to the purposes and provisions of these rules.  
(2) In addition to the general considerations, the following specific requirements  
shall apply:  
(a) Approval for rights-of-way shall be based upon the following:  
(i) Alternative routes available to the applicant.  
(ii) Proximity of existing rights-of-way, which the proposed facility could share or  
be located adjacent to.  
Page 3  
(iii) The narrowest width right-of-way necessary to facilitate construction and  
maintenance of the pipeline, transmission line, or road shall be used. The forest  
management division guidelines, utilities, pipelines, and communication structures on  
state land, which are available by writing the Forest Management Division,  
Department of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 30028, Lansing, Michigan 48909, shall  
be followed.  
(iv) Capacity of new pipelines, transmission lines, and roads to accommodate  
projected or anticipated future needs in that area to reduce the need for additional  
future crossings.  
(b) Approval of a plan for site location and design of publicly provided recreation  
facilities, access sites, publicly developed water management projects, or other  
structures shall be based upon all of the following:  
(i) The adopted natural river plan.  
(ii) Site location shall be in accordance with the adopted natural river plan.  
(iii) A site plan shall be developed so as to take advantage of existing topography and  
vegetation to minimize the impact of facilities on the natural character of the area.  
(iv) Alteration of existing topography shall be kept to a minimum, as provided for in  
the approved site plan.  
(v) Removal of trees, shrubs, and other vegetation in the natural river area shall be in  
accordance with the adopted natural river plan.  
(vi) A plan shall incorporate the use of materials that blend with the natural setting.  
Dark roof areas, muted earth tone paints or stains, and low silhouettes are considered  
desirable.  
(vii) A proposed use shall be constructed and maintained so that it does not lead to  
accelerated bank erosion or degradation of the river resources.  
(viii) When replacing an existing bridge or culvert, or constructing a new road  
crossing over a designated natural river,  
a
structure to accomplish the road  
crossing shall be designed to maximize the purpose and objectives of the natural river  
act. In reviewing an application, the department shall consider the anticipated effects  
of the structure on any portion of the natural river area, and shall consider all of the  
factors outlined in subrule (1)(a) to (f).  
History: 1979 AC.  
R
281.306  
Construction and maintenance of approved projects; applicable  
requirements and specifications.  
Rule 6. (1) Construction and maintenance of approved projects shall follow all  
applicable requirements and specifications set forth in R 281.811 to R 281.846, R  
323.1701 to R 323.1714, R 460.511 to R 460.519, R 460.521 to R 460.529, R 460.540  
to R 460.548, R 460.588, R 460.852, R 460.865, R 460.1251 to R 460.1422, R  
460.2804 to R 460.2879, R 323.1311 to R 323.1329, and R 460.14001 to  
R
460.14999 of the Michigan Administrative Code. The forest management division  
guidelines, utilities, pipelines and communications structures on state land, which are  
available by writing the Forest Management Division, Department of Natural  
Resources, P.O. Box 30028, Lansing, Michigan 48909, shall be followed.  
Page 4  
(2) The department, in addition to the above requirements, may require other  
reasonable measures to further protect the natural river environment, including  
the following as are deemed appropriate and necessary:  
(a) Upon reaching the natural vegetation strip during clearing operations for  
overhead electric transmission line, communication line, and pipeline rights-of-way,  
tall-growing tree species may selectively be removed. Shrubs, low-growing tree  
species with a mature height of less than 20 feet, and other vegetation shall be left as  
natural as possible. Following construction, special measures may be required to  
discourage damaging off-road vehicle use, enhance wildlife habitat, or protect  
against soil erosion. The department may require that the right-of-way be left in a  
rough, ungraded condition and that slash and stumps be scattered over the right-of-way  
or made into brush piles, if landowner concurrence is obtained.  
(b) A single-span stream crossing shall be used whenever possible, which shall be  
consistent with proper vertical clearance of the wires over the waterway and proper  
structure height for minimal adverse visual impact. This will result in poles being  
placed as far landward of the river banks as possible.  
(c) If an underground utility right-of-way crosses the natural vegetation strip,  
only minimal brush and tree removal shall  
be  
performed during construction.  
Following construction, special measures may be required to restore the natural  
appearance of the area, stabilize river banks, discourage damaging off-road vehicle  
use, or enhance wildlife habitat. If revegetation is required, native plant materials  
commonly used in that area, as specified by the department, shall be replanted in  
the natural vegetation strip. The department may require that the right-of-way be left in a  
rough, ungraded condition and that slash and stumps be scattered over the right-  
of-way or made into brush piles, if landowner concurrence is obtained.  
(d) Management of trees, shrubs, and other vegetation for maintenance of all rights-of-  
way shall be done manually in the natural vegetation strip.However, herbicides may be  
applied by hand to stumps of selectively cut trees in the natural vegetation strip,  
where establishing and maintaining a low-growing shrub community in this zone will  
further the objectives of the act. The department may authorize application of selected  
pesticides to control insect or disease infestations.  
(e) The time and method of planting recommended vegetation shall be specified by  
the department to ensure maximum survival and growth of plant species.  
(f) The stream shall be crossed by a method of construction which minimizes  
disruption to the streambed. Streams should be crossed at the point and time least  
damaging to fishery resources, and generally at right angles. If aerial crossings are  
used, they shall be designed  
to accommodate recreational use of the river in  
addition to protection of the streambanks.  
(g) Materials used for bank stabilization following a river crossing shall maintain  
and enhance the natural and aesthetic qualities of the natural river area, control  
bank erosion, restore fish habitat, and discourage damaging off-road vehicle use.  
Specifications regarding stabilization efforts and revegetation shall be consistent with  
the goals of maintaining stream width as near as possible to the original width, and to  
provide early revegetation of the area involved.  
(h) During construction for a new road or bridge, or reconstruction of an existing road  
or bridge, strict erosion control measures shall be taken to prevent sediment from  
Page 5  
reaching the river. Only minimal clearing of existing vegetation, grubbing, and  
grading shall be performed in the natural river area. The construction area shall be  
restored to as natural a condition as possible in the natural river area immediately  
following construction.  
(i) Where bank stabilization is needed to stabilize a bank along a road or at bridge  
crossings, materials shall be used that insure the maintenance and enhancement  
of the natural and aesthetic qualities of the natural river area.  
(j) All of the following apply to publicly  
management projects and access site facilities:  
provided  
recreational  
and water  
(i) Construction or maintenance of these projects  
recommendations of the adopted natural river plan.  
shall  
follow the  
(ii) Only minimal removal of existing vegetation within the natural river area shall  
be performed.  
(iii) The time and method of planting recommended vegetation shall be specified by  
the department to ensure maximum survival and growth of plant species.  
(iv) A plan shall incorporate the use of materials that blend with the natural setting.  
Dark roof areas, muted earth tone paints or stains, and low silhouettes are considered  
desirable.  
History: 1979 AC.  
R 281.307 Hearing; appeals.  
Rule 7. (1) An applicant who is denied approval, or a person who is not satisfied with  
the decisions of the department, is entitled to a hearing pursuant to sections 71 to 77 of  
Act No. 306 of the Public Acts of 1969, as amended, being SS24.271 to 24.277 of the  
Michigan Compiled Laws, and pursuant to R 299.3071 to R 299.3081 of the  
Michigan Administrative Code.  
(2) In making a final decision in a contested case, the commission shall consider those  
factors listed in R 281.305(1)(a) to (f).  
(3) A requested use shall not be granted if the commission determines that the  
requested use poses substantial hazard to human life, property rights, either public or  
private, or to the public trust.  
History: 1979 AC.  
R 281.308 Violations.  
Rule 8. (1) The staff of the department shall investigate an alleged violation and, if  
it is found that a violation exists, shall order the applicant, in writing, to correct  
conditions found to be in violation of these rules.  
(2) Any construction or a use of land or premises in violation of these rules may be  
subject to the provisions of section 13 of Act No. 231 of the Public Acts of 1970, being  
S281.773 of the Michigan Compiled Laws.  
History: 1979 AC.  
Page 6