DNR proposes fines for swimming during red flag warnings

Local News

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is proposing a crackdown on people who decide to jump into the water during red flag warnings.

That crackdown could come in the form of new fines being put in place along the lakeshore. The DNR says it’s become a real problem and that’s why it’s proposing the fines to try to deter people from having to be rescued or even worse, losing their lives.

“I don’t believe that people should go in the water under those conditions and if they are forced to be rescued, that (fine) should be part of the deal I guess,” said Jeremy Lee who visited the pier Monday.

This proposed fine would be a new tool for DNR officers to keep people out of the waves when conditions are unsafe. A dollar amount has yet to be decided.

Currently, there are flags, signs and officers to give verbal commands, but too often, all of that is ignored.

“Without this tool, people just ignore rescuers who are out there, and they’ve got their hands full, sometimes literally carrying someone out of the surf and they have to worry about other people who are ignoring orders to stay out of the water,” Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis said.

Grand Haven is home to one of the most popular state beaches. McGinnis says he is in favor of the fines, adding that too often it’s tourist from non-lakeshore communities who don’t want to miss out on taking a dip that end up in trouble.

“We spend so much time and effort trying to remind people of the difficult conditions. And when you have the tragedy and the family there and they are telling us we didn’t do enough — we tried. We really wanted to get to you before this tragedy happened,” McGinnis said.

This proposal will be discussed on Wednesday. If it passes it could be approved as early as August.

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