Scenic Michigan is an affiliate of the national non-profit organization Scenic America. We are headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan and work to enhance the scenic beauty of Michigan’s rural and urban landscapes. Our principal activities include: combating billboard blight, advocating for thoughtful sign and lighting controls, supporting dark skies initiatives, working to enhance Michigan’s scenic byways, and working to protect Michigan’s breathtaking vistas.
Scenic Michigan Board of Directors and Staff (click for more info)
- Jake Parcell, PhD, Hazel Park —Executive Director
- Peter A. Letzmann, Grand Rapids — President
- Jim Lagowski, Elk Rapids — Vice President
- Jim Siegel, Grand Rapids — Treasurer
- Pam Frucci, Grosse Ile — Secretary
- Gerald Fisher, Clarkston
- A. David Baumhart III, Bloomfield Hills
- Mark Harwood, Birmingham
- Larry Keisling, Troy
- Mel Matchett, Elk Rapids
- Ross Gavin, Berkley
- Chris Guibert, Keweenaw
What We Do
Scenic Michigan’s primary goal is to preserve and enhance the scenic quality of Michigan by eliminating visual blight along our roadsides. There are several ways we work to control visual clutter and conserve our scenic resources. Scenic Michigan:
- Works with the legislature to enact tough visual pollution controls to protect the aesthetic qualities of our roadsides
- Supports local leaders who want to preserve and enhance the unique characteristics of their communities
- Serves as Michigan’s information clearinghouse on scenic conservation
Why We Do It
We love living in the mitten and believe our beautiful lakes, incredible vistas, and unique natural, scenic, historic, and architectural assets are the elements that make our state a special place to live. Scenic Michigan feels it is important to enable communities to identify their special qualities and to empower them to preserve this unique character. Preserving and enhancing the beauty of our state doesn’t just make us feel good, its critical to Michigan’s economy. Increasingly, people want to live, work, and visit places that are attentive to good urban design principles and provide access to beautiful spaces and experiences.
(Click here to watch “A Visual Essay” by Scenic America)
Together we can work to respect Michigan’s scenic amenities. Your support is essential to this mission.
Scenic Michigan has, on its own or in partnership with like-minded groups and individuals:
- Spearheaded successful legislation to cap additional billboards in Michigan
- Beat numerous attempts in the state legislature to loosen Michigan’s billboard restrictions
- Banned tobacco advertising on billboards
- Banned the construction of new double-decker billboards
- Helped local communities establish signage, lighting, and aesthetics ordinances
- Helped preserve the unique character of Michigan by fighting to preserve the natural beauty of roads, last-chance landscapes, and other signature features of our state
- Sponsored the development of Michigan’s Sign Regulation Guidebook
The Founding of Scenic Michigan
- Scenic Michigan saw its beginnings in 1989 under the aegis of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs Billboard Control Task Force.
- In 1990, this billboard control task force supported successful legislation empowering townships with under 30,000 populations to regulate billboards on local and state trunk lines.
- Attorney General Frank J. Kelley and Michigan’s first lady Helen Milliken further raised consciousness concerning highway billboard blight when they traveled the state with their slide program “The Great Terrain Robbery.”
- MUCC Billboard Control Task Force voted in 1995 to become Scenic Michigan and become an affiliate of Scenic America. Scenic Michigan lent support to the passage of legislation implementing the LOGO signing program at 30 locations along Michigan’s freeways and interstate highways.
- One year later Scenic Michigan incorporated, received a 501 (c) (3) designation, affiliated with Scenic America, and supported the successful passage of legislation for Tourist Oriented Directional System (T.O.D.S.) signing for non-freeway Michigan highways.
- Legislation supported by Scenic Michigan and signed into law in 1998 raised billboard permit fees, restricted double-decker billboards, increased spacing between billboards, and penalized vegetation removal violations. Shortly thereafter, legislation was passed permitting LOGO signs installations at Interstate and freeway exits throughout Michigan.
- Since 2000 Scenic Michigan has filed amicus curiae briefs and supported successful billboard restrictions in Holland, East Lansing, Clawson and Livonia, and published the award-winning Michigan Sign Guidebook
- April 22, 2003 was declared Scenic Michigan Day by Michigan Senate. Senator Tom George, Kalamazoo, who also sponsored legislation signed into law in December 2006, banning any new billboard permits in Michigan.