View Full Version : Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Regarding Permission to Use State Lands

September 25th, 2009, 02:59 PM
How long has there been a permitting requirement for the use of state owned land?
Since 1973 for uses of state lands, which were otherwise unlawful without a permit under the state land rules, currently known as the rules for the regulation of lands administered by the Department of Natural Resources.

Why haven’t I been required to obtain a permit in the past for my event or commercial operation on state land?
There has been a permit requirement, but until 2001, there was not a definition of commercial use/operations in the administrative rules. Since that time, the Department has been developing a procedure and fee schedule for commercial operations.

What is the commercial operations definition?
Commercial operations means, “Any activity which involves the buying or selling of goods or services, or the exchange or attempt or offer to exchange goods or services for money, barter, or for anything of value.”

Do all commercial operations and events on state land require a permit?
Every commercial use and event will be evaluated for its impacts to state lands, natural resources and the use of state lands by other users. If the Department determines that the commercial operation or event will not require Department oversight and will have minimal impact on the resource or use by others, the permit requirement may be waived.

What if my group or business already receives a permit to use state lands?
You will need to apply under the new procedure and fee schedule beginning January 1, 2006 for commercial operations or events conducted after that date.

Where do I apply for a permit?
Usually you will apply to the local land management unit. For example, you would apply to the Gaylord Management Unit for a permit to use the state forest land in Antrim County.

Will requests for the use of state land always be approved?
No. In some cases, the Department’s review may indicate that the proposed use is too intensive, or interferes with too many other users, or will damage state land or other resources or a state facility. In some cases, the Department may approve a modified version of a proposed use.

Will I need to apply for a use permit every year to conduct a commercial operation on state owned lands?
Yes. Use permits will need to be renewed annually and this will require a new application annually. However, for some activities that will continue over one year and that may be more intensive in nature, a lease may be appropriate and the term may be longer than one year.

When will the new permission to use state land procedure go into affect?
Beginning January 1, 2006 the new procedure and fee schedule will apply for commercial uses and events on state lands.

I own a business that conducts commercial operations on state lands and I employ four people. Do I need one use permit for my business or one for each employee?
Each business conducting commercial operations will need one use permit. Employees working for this business are covered under one permit. If an employee also operates independently, they will need a separate permit for that business.

What type of conditions will apply to my permit?
Specific permit conditions will vary depending on the commercial operation or event. However hours of operation, alcohol limits, location, duration of event, number of participants, etc. may all be considered. Liability insurance and a performance bond will be standard requirements.

Why do I have to pay to hold an event or commercial use of state land?
If your business is a commercial operation, then according to statute, the Department of Natural Resources must charge an application, review, use and possibly a monitoring fee. The application, review and monitoring charges are to cover Department costs.

How much will I be charged for a use permit?
The permit fees are variable depending upon a number of factors including, impacts to the resource, facilities, duration of the event and number of participants. The fees are structured to charge more for intense uses or those with a longer duration. Lower fees are charged to less intense, shorter duration uses. Fees can vary between no fee required to more than $1,000 per year.

How are the factors rated and applied to determine the permit fee?
An impact assessment is completed in order to rate the impact of the proposed use. The assessment is based on a cumulative point scoring system designed to objectively rate the impact the proposed use will have on the resource and use of lands by others. The greater the impact, the higher the permit fee, which includes a use of land charge. Points are assessed in the following categories:

• Facility impact – How will this activity impact local infrastructure such as toilet use, parking lots, boat ramp, utilities, etc.
• Resource impact – How does this activity impact the natural, cultural, or historic resources that the DNR is obligated to protect and preserve?
• Use level – Does this activity require exclusive use of the facility? If not, how much is needed? How much impact will there be on other users who utilize the same facility? Number of participants – How many people will be involved with the permitted activity over the course of the permit?
• Duration – What is the intended length (one day, week, seasonal) of the activity?

What other factors are used to determine the permit fees?
In addition to the impact and use assessment, there may be a need for extensive DNR staff review of the permit application or a need to monitor the event or use activity. The total fees range from $0 to over $1,000 and are related to the dynamics of the proposed use or activity and the results of the impact analysis.

Where do the permit fees go?
The fees remain with the land administering division and may be spent for permit review, maintenance, or monitoring and compliance at the location of the event or use being permitted.

What is the penalty for conducting an event or commercial operation on state land without a use permit?
Conducting an event or commercial operation on state land without a use permit is a violation of the Administrative Rules. The offense is a civil infraction, punishable by up to a $500.00 fine. Multiple offenses may result in higher fines and increased penalties.

September 25th, 2009, 05:00 PM
Bob, this is excellent information and should help to answer many peoples questions on this often controversial issue.

Thanks for posting it - I'm sure it will get linked to a lot!!