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 change/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 DNR-Naturalrivers@michigan.gov or reach out directly to the appropriate permitting staff.
Au Sable, Betsie, Fox, Jordan, Manistee, Pine, Two Hearted
Flat, Huron, Kalamazoo, Rogue, White
Boardman, Pigeon, Rifle
Michigan's Designated Natural Rivers
Information and Forms
- Natural Rivers Rules for Utilities and Publicly-Provided Facilities
- Part 305, Natural Rivers, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended
- 2021 Zoning Review Boards
- Application for Natural River Program by Utility / Public Agency
- Application for Natural River Program Variance
- Standards for Private Lands
- Natural River Zoning Rules
- Application for Natural River Program Zoning Permit