Critical Dune Assurance at ACD
When the Allegan Conservation District (ACD) does a critical dune vegetation removal assurance we will examine the construction site with the construction plan in hand to evaluate the impact it could have on wind erosion and other issues for your site and your neighbors. While it is frequently necessary to remove trees and other vegetation for legitimate reasons, our trained technicians may suggested alternative plans or simply the best way to implement the construction plan with the least impact possible. For example, we may identify lower value or even invasive species of trees. These species may be less harmful to remove in replace of what is proposed.
We also provide guidance on how to protect trees and vegetation which are intended to be preserved, but may be lost if care is not taken to protect them during construction. Even experienced landscape and construction crews may not be fully aware of how delicate the dunes are and the measures needed to protect vegetation in these unique ecosystems. Conservation Districts are a cost competitive provider of VRA services and ACD makes every effort to provide prompt service to busy construction professionals. Typically we can be on site in a matter of days after an application is made.
The Law and Critical Dune Vegetation Removal
The Critical Dune Areas (CDA) program is administered under the authority of Part 353, Sand Dune Protection and Management, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended. The CDA program protects the extremely fragile areas of Michigan’s dunes by promoting the use of design and construction techniques to minimize impacts of uses on the dunes. As defined in part 353, “use” means “a developmental, silvicultural, or recreational activity done or caused to be done by a person that significantly alters the physical characteristic of a critical dune area or a contour change done or caused to be done by a person.”
A Michigan Department of Environmental Quality permit is required for any use within a CDA. Regulated activities include construction of buildings, septic systems, water wells, driveways, all excavation and filling, and vegetation removal within the CDAs. These areas are identified in the “Atlas of Critical Dune Areas” dated February 1989, and adopted by the Michigan Legislature under Part 353. Section 35313c requires that all applications for permits for the use of a CDA include written “Assurances that the cutting and removing of trees and other vegetation will be performed according to the “forestry management guidelines for Michigan” prepared by the society of American foresters in 1987 as revised in 2010 and may include a program to provide mitigation for the removal of trees or vegetation by providing assurances that the applicant will plant on the site more trees and other vegetation than were removed by the proposed use.” On August 7, 2012 revisions to Part 353 were signed into law. While a vegetation removal assurance is still required to receive a permit, landowners are no longer required to utilize the local Conservation District to provide it. However, the Allegan Conservation District will continue to offer this service, at a reasonable fee, to our valued critical dune landowners.
The Permitting Process
Before submitting your permit application to the MDEQ, you must first complete the following:
1. Soil Erosion Permit from the Allegan County Health Department
2. Septic system permit (if applicable) from the Allegan County Health Department
3. Vegetation Removal Assurance. The Conservation District can be hired to complete this requirement (download application).