The state of Michigan is working to resolve more than 125 cases of trespassing or encroachment on state park lands by property owners under an initiative unveiled this spring.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Keith Creagh said earlier this month that 129 cases were brought forward under the department’s Encroachment Resolution Program, which offers a streamlined process to resolve encroachment issues.
The DNR manages more than 4.5 million acres of public land available for recreational purposes, such as hunting, fishing and camping. According to the department, there have been encroachments on public lands across the state for decades, which have impeded the DNR’s ability to properly manage, protect, and maintain the public land.
There are three state recreation areas in west Oakland County. The Highland Recreation Area in Highland and White Lake townships is comprised of about 5,900 acres, while the Proud Lake Recreation area in Milford and Commerce townships has about 4,700 acres. The Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, in Waterford and White Lake townships, covers 3,745 acres.
Under the new initiative, the DNR notifies owners of all known encroachments of the process to obtain the land being encroached upon between May 1 and Dec. 31. The deadline for those notified to file for a quick resolution on their case is Dec. 31.
Encroachments range from structural trespasses (entire barns, garages, homes or portions of structures built on public land) to non-structural trespasses (signs, gardens and fencing), as well as historic trespasses (those built before 1973).
The goal of the Encroachment Resolution Program is to provide incentive for property owners to settle cases in a streamlined process without penalties.
Creagh said cases brought forth under the program address about 20 percent of all encroachment cases in the state’s system.