Christopher M. Bzdok

• Reported Decisions
• Publications

• Professional Presentations and Other Instruction

• Professional Associations

Chris practices environmental, energy, local government, and Indian law.

Chris has held public office and served the community on a number of different boards:

  • Mayor of Traverse City
  • City Commission
  • Traverse City Light and Power board of directors
  • Traverse City Downtown Development Authority board of directors 
  • Traverse Area Transportation and Land Use study group
  • Grand Traverse County Board of Public Works
  • Governing Council, Michigan State Bar Environmental Law Section

Chris's term as mayor was widely praised in the community. See also here and here. He currently serves on the Traverse City-Garfield Township Joint Recreation Authority.

Chris is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Michigan State University College of Law, where he has taught Water Law and Environmental Law.

Chris received a Bachelor of Science with high honors from the University of Michigan, and is a cum laude graduate of Wayne State University Law School, where he also studied biology and freshwater chemistry at the graduate level.

Chris has received these accolades:

  • Best Lawyers in America, Environmental Law, 2010-2013 
  • Michigan Super Lawyers, Environmental Law, 2011-2013
  • Northern Express, "Our Top 5 Heroes," March 28, 2011
  • Traverse Magazine, "Five Enviros to Watch," 2008
  • Traverse City Business News "40 under 40," six years in a row

Chris has published articles in the areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency, environmental protection, water law, coastal resource management, the public trust doctrine, zoning referendums, and regulatory takings. He received the Thomas M. Cooley Law Review Distinguished Brief Award for one of the most scholarly briefs filed in the Michigan Supreme Court in 2009.



Reported Decisions

Chris has appeared as a co-attorney of record in the following reported decisions:

  • In re Consumers Energy Co Renewable Energy Plan, 293 Mich App 254 (2011)

  • Kyser v Kasson Twp, 486 Mich 514 (2010)

  • Pine Bluffs Area Property Owners Association, Inc v Dewitt Landing and Dock Association, 287 Mich App 690 (2010)

  • Dextrom v Wexford County, 287 Mich App 406 (2010)

  • Houdek v Centerville Twp, 276 Mich App 568 (2007)

  • Campaign for Family Farms v Veneman, 229 F Supp 2d 772 (WD Mich); affirmed 348 F3d 157 (6th Cir 2003), remanded, 125 S Ct 2511 (2005)

  • Manistee Saltworks Development Corp v City of Manistee, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians & Manistee Citizens for Responsible Development, 2005 WL 2600428 (WD Mich)

  • Glen Lake–Crystal River Watershed Riparians v Glen Lake Ass’n, 264 Mich App 523 (2004), featured as principal case, Sax et al, Legal Control of Water Resources, 4th ed., pp 70-79

  • Nemeth v Abonmarche Development Co, 457 Mich 16 (1998)

  • K&K Const’n Co v DNR, 456 Mich 570 (1998) (amicus)

  • Burt Twp v DNR, 459 Mich 659 (1999) (amicus)

  • Friends of the Crystal River v Kuras Properties, 456 Mich 950 (1998); recons’d 459 Mich 899 (1999); appl dism’d 465 Mich 899 (2001)



  • The impact of Michigan’s Water Withdrawal Legislation on small streams and small stream riparian owners, ___ Mich Real Property Rev 29 (2010) (with Jeffrey L. Jocks)

  • Michigan’s Clean Energy Legislation: Charging Toward a New Energy Future, 88 Mich Bar Journal 26 (October 2009) (with James Clift)

  • The Case for Referendum, Planning & Zoning News, March 2009, reprinted in Michigan Public Corporation Law Quarterly (Fall 2009)

  • Public rights to fish and hunt on lakes and streams: a primer for Michigan’s Indian Tribes (2008) (with William Rastetter and Michael C. Grant)

  • Course Materials, Legal Tools to Protect Coastal Environments, National Sea Grant Law Center and Great Lakes Water Studies Institute (2008) (with Sarah Williams)

  • Where will the water go? A snapshot of recent changes in Michigan water law
    33 Mich Real Property Rev 214 (Fall 2007) (with Ross Hammersley)

  • Case comment, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation v Nestle Waters NA
    33 Mich Real Property Rev 56 (2006)

  • Environmental Law Chapter, Annual Survey of Michigan Law, 45 Wayne Law Review 843 (Fall 1999)

  • "The MEPA Lives: In Northern Michigan and Beyond" Michigan Bar Journal, (May 1999) (with James M. Olson)

  • Takings Claims Against Municipalities After Del Monte Dunes
    17 Michigan Defense Quarterly No. 3, p. 4 (2000)


Professional Presentations and Other Instruction

  • The Future of Traverse City, Traverse City Rotary Club, February 2010

  • Legal Tools to Protect Coastal Environments, Great Lakes Water Studies Institute at Northwestern Michigan College, Traverse City, MI, June 2008

  • The surveyor in the courtroom, Michigan Society of Professional Surveyors, Mt. Pleasant, MI, February 2007

  • Environmental citizen suits, Michigan State Bar Association Environmental Law Section’s Environmental Boot Camp Program, March 2007

  • Dispute resolution in wetlands cases, Association of State Wetlands Managers Legal Symposium, Traverse City, MI, August 2006

  • Anatomy of a citizen suit, University of Florida College of Law Environmental Speakers Series, Gainesville, FL, January 2006

  • Protecting the commons - Waters of the Great Lakes, Great Lakes Bioneers Conference, Traverse City, MI, October 2004

  • Guest Lecturer, Natural Resources Law & Wetlands Law, Michigan State University - Detroit College of Law, East Lansing, MI, January & September 2000

  • Citizen standing after Laidlaw, Michigan State Bar Surface Water Committee, Lansing, MI, June 2000

  • Law and the science of ecology, Wayne State University Biological Sciences Department, Detroit, MI, June 2000

  • Great Lakes oil drilling and the public trust, panel sponsored by Michigan Land Use Institute, Manistee, MI, September 1998

  • Conservation biology in the law, University of Michigan Biological Station, Pellston, MI, August 1998

  • What is non-point source pollution and why should you care? Metropolitan Detroit Landscapers Association, Novi, MI, March 1997

  • The impact of K & K Construction on regulatory takings in Michigan, Michigan Land Use Institute, Benzonia, MI, August 1996


Professional Associations

  • Governing Council of Michigan Bar Association Environmental Law Section

  • Fellow, Michigan State Bar Foundation Water Law Committee, Michigan Bar Association Real Property Section
  • Land Use Committee, Michigan Bar Association Real Property Section


Kate Redman Discusses Crowd-Funding Rules in TC's Record-Eagle

“Investment crowdfunding has been leading the industry globally, but we should see a really startling growth in the U.S. once these new rules are effective,” said Kate Redman, attorney with Olson, Bzdok & Howard PC in Traverse City. Redman will offer training “labs” starting in May for businesses and nonprofits interested in investment crowdfunding. Contact her at for more information.

Traverse City Record-Eagle (01-24-16) 

The Traverse City law firms, Olson, Bzdok & Howard, P.C. and Sondee, Racine & Doren, PLC, are pleased to announce our formal affiliation as of January 1, 2016. Our firms will be working together closely to represent clients as a team, and provide our clients with a greater variety and depth of legal services.

Each firm will retain its own identity, but Sondee, Racine & Doren will be “of counsel” to Olson Bzdok & Howard. This means that all of our attorneys will have a close, continuous and regular professional relationship and that we all will work together for you.

Each firm will be maintaining its own office and staff, and all attorney contact information will remain the same.


Public Trust Framework Recommended for Great Lakes

The International Joint Commission (IJC) of the United States & Canada has issued a report recommending the application of a bi-national Public Trust framework to help fill regulatory gaps and guide decision-making that will ensure the protection of the long-term ecological integrity, economic stability, and the many public and private uses of the Great Lakes.

Firm founder Jim Olson has advocated for the active implementation of Public Trust principles in Great Lakes decision-making for decades, so this recommendation is both a welcome development, and a tremendous accomplishment. Congratulations Jim!

Full Report (pdf): Protection of the Waters of the Great Lakes 

Kate Redman is one of TC's 40 under 40!

Kate Redman, Community Enterprise Attorney and Partner at Olson, Bzdok & Howard, has been selected as one of Traverse City's Most Influential Professionals under 40 for 2015. This is the second year in a row Kate has been selected by the TC Business News as part of TC's "40 under 40." Congrats Kate!

Sept. 1, 2015 

Partnership Announcement

Olson, Bzdok & Howard is pleased to announce that Ross A. Hammersley and Kate E. Redman became shareholders with the firm. Please take a look at their attorney profiles to learn more about these young legal trailblazers.

March 20, 2015