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Natural River Zoning

  • Michigan's Natural Rivers program is a river protection effort that protects the natural quality of select river systems throughout the state by regulating their use and development through zoning rules.  The Natural Rivers Program was developed to preserve, protect, and enhance our state's finest river systems for the use and enjoyment of current and future generations by allowing property owners their right to reasonable development, while protecting Michigan's unique river resources.

  • There are 16 designated Natural River systems in Michigan. The designation includes the mainstream, as well as most of the tributaries. Nearly all construction, land changes/earth moving, and placement of structures is regulated within 400 feet of any designated stream segment. Please consult with Natural Rivers Program staff for specific regulatory determinations.

  • For more information, please email or contact our area director: Dana Castle at

  • PINE RIVER: The Pine River watershed is located in the northwestern portion of Michigan's lower peninsula. It has a drainage area of 265 square miles, and ultimately discharges to Tippy Dam Impoundment in Manistee County. The watershed includes parts of four counties: Wexford, Osceola, Lake and Manistee. The mainstream is approximately 49 miles long.

  • PERE MARQUETTE RIVER: The Pere Marquette River is located in portions of Lake, Mason, Newaygo and Oceana counties; the Pere Marquette River system drains an area of approximately 740 square miles. Roughly 53 percent of the watershed is in Lake County. The mainstream starts at the confluence of the Middle Branch and Little South Branch, known as the "Forks" and flows in a westerly direction for approximately 67 miles to its mouth at Pere Marquette Lake.

  • Find more information here:

Additional Resource Material 
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