Prohibiting anchoring in the Straits of Mackinac -- where key infrastructure lines carry important resources between Michigan's peninsulas -- is critical to help prevent irreversible environmental damage to our state, Gov. Rick Snyder said today after approving the Department of Natural Resources issuing an emergency rule.
"Anchoring in the Straits of Mackinac poses a serious threat to the welfare and protection of Michigan and our vital natural resources," Gov. Snyder said. "Anchoring could cause severe environmental damage and threatens to disrupt critical energy and communication services between the Upper and Lower peninsulas. This emergency rule will help us better protect Michigan waters and residents until a permanent solution is in place."
The emergency rule formalizes a previously informal anchor restriction in the Straits of Mackinac by prohibiting anchoring under Michigan state law. Productive discussions are underway with the U.S. Coast Guard on permanent measures that would complement the state's temporary emergency rule.
"Michigan is blessed with some of the most beautiful natural resources on the planet -- and with that comes a tremendous responsibility," said state Sen. Wayne Schmidt. "While I am thankful that no harm was done to the environment, we must ensure that an incident like the one in early April never happens again. Studies have shown that the highest risk to underwater pipelines and cables is a deployed anchor and I am happy to see the DNR acting to prohibit this from happening again by instituting this emergency ruling."
Issued under the Marine Safety sections of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, the emergency rule will remain in place for 6 months, with the option of an additional 6-month renewal.
The eastern boundary of the no-anchor zone is defined by the Mackinac Bridge. The western boundary is defined by a line beginning at the western edge of McGulpin Point in the Lower Peninsula to the western edge of an unnamed island immediately southwest of Point La Barbe in the Upper Peninsula. Click here to view a map of the boundaries.
"Anchor strikes in the Straits of Mackinac represent a clear and present danger to the people and natural resources of Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula," said state Rep. Lee Chatfield. "I believe this Emergency Rule should be permanent. Let there be no confusion: From this day forward, dropping anchor in the Straits will be an illegal act and should be treated with the full weight of the law. A spill would endanger and affect the well-being of people living in the entire region. The Straits and inland waterways aren't just important to our economy, they are a big part of our way of life."
Exceptions to the rule include:
Vessels operating under tribal authorities; and
Written requests documenting the location of the proposed anchorage and the reason for the request. These requests will be reviewed and granted at the discretion of the director of the Department of Natural Resources.
"As chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources, I commend Director Creagh and Governor Snyder in working with our counterparts in implementing an anchor-ban rule in the area and ensuring immediate effect in the Straits of Mackinac," said state Rep. Sue Allor. "My hope is that this will assist in keeping our waters safe until we are able to enact a more permanent solution."