BY HUNTER K. AVIS WITH LINNELL & ASSOCIATES, PLLC
A common theme we see developing among inland lake riparian owners is that of taking an active role in the management and improvement of their lakes. Recently, we have discussed the formation of lake boards, methods to petition for new rules and regulations on the lake, and the permitting for management of aquatic vegetation. This month, we will discuss avenues that are available to the riparian owner for supplementing the fisheries of their lake.
Typically, when one thinks of fish stocking in Michigan, the Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) comes to mind. Indeed, much of the fish production and stocking in the state are DNR-led efforts or collaborations with universities or other groups. Pursuant to the DNR, large stocking efforts occur for a variety of reasons, ranging from providing gamefish for sport, to restoring fish populations that have declined and may need a boost to once again becoming self-sustaining. Most DNR stocking is of limited species: trout, salmon, walleye, pike, muskie, and sturgeon. Other species, those common in the “warmwater” lakes of southern Michigan, are outside of the DNR’s production efforts. Private hatcheries, however, produce a wide variety of both cold-water and warm-water species, and private individuals may apply for, you guessed it, a stocking permit for public waters.
The Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (“NREPA”) contains a section on management of renewable resources, and specifically Fisheries and Sport Fishing. Within the Sport Fishing subpart of NREPA is the Application to Stock Fish into Michigan Public Waters. A key determination in this process, whether a permit is in fact necessary, comes down to defining whether the waterbody is “public” or not. For stocking purposes, a waterbody is public if it has a public access site, or if the waterbody is permanently connected to another public waterbody at its inlet or outlet. Further requirements include disease testing of the fish, and an analysis of the waterbody by DNR staff. If you have questions about a stocking permit, let us know!
Linnell & Associates was formed in 2009 in response to the homeowners’ need for assistance during the economic downturn due to the housing crisis. Since then, Linnell & Associates has transformed into a well-rounded law firm, with its focus on real estate matters.