Water Ski Course Permit

Discussion in 'Questions about MI Hunting/Fishing Law' started by Benzie Rover, Apr 1, 2008.

  1. Boehr,

    I was hoping you, or someone, can shed some light on the rules over ski course permits. Specifically, is the landowner adjacent to the course (and whose bottomlands the course buoys are on) required to either sign the application or provide a letter of "NO OBJECTION" for the permit to be issued???

    In other words, is it concievable to you that a ski course permit would be granted to a group of water skiers to place their course infront of vacant shoreline (privately owned) with out consent of the landowner?

    To be more specific, the permit to place buoys has been granted for nearly 20 years while the landowner was living in California and he had no idea the course was put infront of his property. The local conservation officer whom annually grants the permit is quite adamant that the permit does not need landowner signature nor a letter of "NO OBJECTION". The land is now held by a new landowner and the permits are still being granted with out any consent (nor objection I should add) from the landowner. In this case, the course if pretty contentious with half the lake loving it, the other half wanting it gone... The current landowner does not want to 'pick sides' and is remaining neutral even though the course is on their bottomlands. I do not want to make a huge issue out of this for many reasons, so I am not naming anything specfically, but if you could please provide your opinion or a few comments (if you have enough facts here) based on your many years of service I would appreciate it greatly.

    a curious northern michigan citizen
    #1 Benzie Rover, Apr 1, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 30, 2015
  2. boehr

    boehr Banned

    The local CO isn't the one who approves the permit, the District Law Supervisor is the one who makes approval or denial of a ski course permit.

    No, a landowner does not have to agree or disagree nor sign anything.

    About 10 year ago many ski permits were denied for reasons of basically the safety of fishermen and no real need to have a ski course on what seemed like evey lake in the county. Through Administrative Hearings which a person is entitled to when an application they submit is denied, a process went through the red tape up to the court system ( can't remember is it made it to Circuit Court or Court of Appeals but the courts basically ruled that the DNR, regardless of what and who on an inland lake wanted must have specific safety reasons to deny a permit. And when I say specific, I mean very specific. Through all of the court agreements and such, the DNR met with Michigan Water Skiing Association and develope criteria that involved safety issued for not only skiiers but also other users. There is certain criteria that a permit holder must abide by and anyone on the lake would be able to get a copy of the permit to find out what the criteria is. If the conditions of a permit are not being followed then there would be the possibility of the permit being revoked.

    Believe me, ski permit are a pain the butt for COs and the supervisors because I have never seen one that everyone wants, it is usually like you say about 50% for and 50% less. I know in my old District of 9 counties there where about 40 or 50 permits out that I dealt with. They are not renewed every year in 99% of the cases but once every 3 years. There are also free. I have also never seen more that one permit issued for one lake.

    Here are some of the provisions/conditions found on most ski permits. There can be variances depending on the particular situation.

    A standard slalom course will require an “area of activity.” This area shall be an area on the surface of the water body that is 1,800 feet long, and 150 feet wide as measured in straight lines. This area was established in consultation with the Michigan Waterski Association in order that the course may be used safely. If the body of water on which the course is requested cannot accommodate this area of activity as measured by the conservation officer, then the permit will be denied. There is no minimum lake acreage requirement for permit issuance.

    At no point shall the area of activity fall within 100 feet of any man-made object, including, but not limited to a dock, buoyed swim area, anchored raft, or boat hoist.

    At no point shall the area of activity come within 75 feet of an un-developed shoreline. This distance was established in consultation with the Michigan Waterski Association to provide a skier with a safe buffer zone in the case of a fall. It virtually eliminates the possibility that a skier would collide with the shoreline.

    The permit shall specify that the 4 corner buoys shall be placed within the area of activity, and shall also state that the course buoys shall be centered within the corner buoys.

    A permit shall not restrict times/days of operation during the period of Labor Day through Memorial Day. For the purpose of this provision, Labor Day and Memorial Day shall include the weekends during which these holidays are observed.

    During the period not described above, a permit will restrict the hours of operation to 1 hour before sunrise to noon on Saturday, Sunday, and Holidays. The permit shall not restrict the course hours on the remaining days of the week unless it is upon the recommendation of the investigating officer, and based on articulated marine safety concerns.

    A permit shall specify that the permit does not exempt an individual using the course from violating any local watercraft control in effect at the time the permit is issued, or that becomes effective during the life of the permit.

    A permit shall specify that the course shall be available for use by any member of the public.

    A permit shall specify that the 4 corner buoys shall remain in place during the entire time that the course may be used. The 4 corner buoys may be lowered to not less than 4 feet below the water’s surface when the course is not in use. The permit shall also specify that the actual course buoys (non-conforming buoys) shall be removed or lowered to not less than 4 feet below the water’s surface at any time that the course in not in actual use.

    An original permit shall be issued for a period that expires on December 31 of the year in which it is issued. Upon renewal, the permit may be issued for a period that expires on December 31 of the second year following the year of renewal. Upon a second and subsequent renewal, a permit may expire on December 31 of the fourth year following the year of renewal. This paragraph shall not require that permits that now exist be amended as to expiration dates.

    Upon the request of an applicant for a permit, and where reasonable, the District Law Supervisor may waive the restrictions enumerated above concerning the times and days during which a course may be used. As used in this provision, “reasonable” shall mean that based on factors such as very few riparian owners or historically low water use, no public interest is served by limiting the use of the course.

    Permit decisions will be based on articulable marine safety concerns and legitimate conflicts of use.

  3. Boehr,

    Thank you for the very detailed and fact filled reply.
    Couple more questions if you do not mind.

    1. I was also wondering if you know of any situation where a concern for wildlife habitat or shoreline erosion caused the permit to be either denied, or, the hours of use were limited from 2 hrs. after sunrise to 2 hours before sunset?? (standard 'no wake' law on many smaller lakes around here) Or is it only human saftey and not other impacts that determine the permit process?

    2. Are you aware of any situations where a permit was effected by the course becoming a popular 'hang out' spot where several (10-12) boats will gather and party on a sandbar along shore adjacent to the course for a whole day? Or is that just a trespass issue with the riparian whose bottomlands the boaters are partying on and not directly related tot he permit, even though the boaters are primarily there waiting to use the course and watching others?

    Thanks again for your time and consideration.
  4. boehr

    boehr Banned

    There are sometimes adjustments made on the times, but it has to be for a very good reason. I know of none for eroision and such, hence the requirement for distance from the shorline. If there is a no wake law then the permit would not be issued.

    Have never had that complaint and know of no situations.

    Thanks again for your time and consideration.[/QUOTE]

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