• 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.

    Map of permitting staff locations

    Brian Bury
    Au Sable, Betsie, Fox, Jordan, Manistee, Pine, Two Hearted

    Dana Castle
    Pere Marquette

    Kesiree Thiamkeelakul
    Flat, Huron, Kalamazoo, Rogue, White

    Patrick Ertel
    Boardman, Pigeon, Rifle

Michigan's Designated Natural Rivers

  • Map showing Michigan's Natural RiversFox River Two Hearted River Boardman River Pigeon River Pere Marquette Manistee River (Upper) Au Sable River Pine River Flat River White River Rogue River Kalamazoo River Huron River Rifle River Betsie River Boardman River Jordan River Pigeon River Fox River Two Hearted River