Lake Classification & Lake Protection Grants

New Application Deadlines!

Program Name Application Due Date
Lake Classification & Ordinance Development December 10
Lake Protection February 1

Who can apply

Eligible applicants

Lake Classification Grants

Only counties can apply.

Lake Management Grants

Counties, towns, cities, villages, tribes, qualified non-profit conservation organizations, qualified lake associations, qualified school districts, public inland lake protection and rehabilitation districts, town sanitary districts and other local governmental units as defined in s. 66.0301(1)(a), Wis. Adm. Code, that are established for the purpose of lake management, are eligible to apply for funding to collect and analyze information needed to protect and restore lakes and their watersheds.

In order for nonprofit conservation organizations and lake associations to apply, they must be a qualified organization. Please review the qualification requirements, or check with your DNR regional environmental grant specialist [PDF] to see if your group is currently eligible to apply.


Lake Classification Grants - eligible projects

  • Classification
    • Setting objectives for the classification system
    • Preliminary investigation of management tools
    • Selection of classification criteria
    • Data collection and analysis necessary for water classification
  • Management
    • Public information and education
    • Setting objectives for individual lake classes
    • Ordinance development
    • Implementation of alternative management tools
    • Policy adoption that encourages managing waters based on the specific needs of each waterbody

Counties that have adopted a lake classification system are also eligible for implementation grants. Eligible implementation projects include:

  • tracking/evaluating the enforcement/compliance with ordinance implementing the classification;
  • developing administrative forms, computer programs, and procedures;
  • conduct training/educational sessions or develop printed/electronic media regarding the lake classification system and/or new regulations;
  • support programs resulting from lake classification (such as shoreline restoration technical assistance); and
  • make revisions and/or amendments to the classification system (maps, GIS, and databases) or ordinances implementing them.

Lake Protection Grants - eligible projects

Grant awards may fund up to 75 percent of project costs (maximum grant amount $200,000). Because of the size, complexity, and technical nature of many projects, a pre-application meeting with the DNR is highly recommended, especially if the project requires plan or permit approvals. This will ensure the application will be complete and can be evaluated and considered for funding. Eligible projects include the following.

  • Purchase of land or conservation easements that will significantly contribute to the protection or improvement of the natural ecosystem and water quality of a lake.
  • Restoration of wetlands and shorelands that will protect a lake's water quality or its natural ecosystem. These grants are limited to $100,000. Special wetland incentive grants of up to $10,000 are eligible for 100 percent state funding if the project is identified in the sponsor's comprehensive land use plan.
  • Development of local regulations or ordinances to protect lakes and the education activities necessary for them to be implemented. These grants are limited to $50,000.
  • Lake management plan implementation projects recommended in a plan and approved by DNR. These projects may include watershed management projects, lake restoration, diagnostic feasibility studies or any other projects that will protect or improve lakes. Sponsors should submit a copy of their lake management plan and the recommendation(s) it wants to fund for DNR approval at least two months in advance of the May 1 deadline. Plans must have been officially adopted by the sponsor and made available for public comment prior to submittal. The DNR will review the plan and advise the sponsor on the project's eligibility and development of a lake protection grant application for its implementation.

Not eligible for either grant

  • Dam repair, operation or removal.
  • Purchase of property on which a dam is located.
  • Water safety patrols.
  • Dredging.
  • Design, installation, operation or maintenance of sanitary sewers, or septic systems.
  • Most chemical treatments or mechanical harvesting of aquatic plants.
  • Maintenance and operation of equipment and facilities.
  • Water safety patrols, as defined in s. 30.79(1)(b), Wis. Stats.


Annual Application deadlines:

  • Lake Protection - February 1
  • Lake Classification - December 10


Contact information
For project cost and eligibility questions, contact:
DNR Regional Lake Coordinator [PDF]
For project eligibility questions, contact:
Your DNR regional environmental grants specialist
Last revised: Thursday July 31 2014