Open records request
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is committed to the principles of open government and accountability. All persons are entitled access to records in the possession of the DNR, whatever its form. All records created or received by the DNR and its employees in connection with the transaction of public business are subject to public inspection. The working principle is that unless a record is specifically exempt from this requirement, the record shall be released to the public.
Many records available on the web
The DNR website provides a great deal of information about DNR activities and can provide direct access to this information as well as records related to these activities, operations and decisions. You may find this information using the search feature.
Frequently requested records
DNR databases for environmental records regarding properties in Wisconsin.
- Air Permits
- Air Quality & Health
- Drinking Water & Groundwater
- Environmental cleanup & brownfields redevelopment
- Bureau of Remediation & Redevelopment Tracking System - BRRTS
- Bureau of Remediation & Redevelopment (RR) Sites Map
- Environmental Protection & Enforcement
- Hazardous substance spills
- Waste Management
- Groundwater & Enforcement Monitoring System - GEMS
- Solid & Hazardous Waste Information Management System - SHWIMS
- Water Permits
- Industrial Storm Water Permit Data
- Construction Site Storm Water Permit Data
- Municipal Storm Water Permit Data
- Customer lists - hunting & fishing licenses/permits and vehicle registrations
Includes high capacity wells, public contaminants, public water systems, well construction, and the groundwater retrieval network.
Requesting DNR records
While it is preferred, a written request (via letter or email) is generally not required. Sometimes requesting records can be done by calling appropriate DNR staff in regions and bureaus. See staff search by subject.
We also have Open Records Request Form 9500-096 that you can fill out and either mail or send electronically (email) to appropriate DNR staff. If unable to open this form, see Portable Document Format (PDF) help for assistance.
When submitting an open records request, be sure to provide enough information so that we can efficiently process your request. The following are some examples to help expedite your request:
- What records are you seeking? Please be specific. i.e. All correspondence pertaining to ABC Canoe's laminated canoes.
- Date(s) or date range of records. i.e. May 2008 to September 2008.
- DNR program or region (if applicable) i.e. Northern Region, Air Program.
- DNR personnel who may have knowledge or was involvement regarding the records you are seeking. i.e. Samuel Sweeney, Northern Region Air Engineer.
- Complete names of businesses or property owners, i.e. ABC Canoe Company, Inc.
- Complete address of the property or other data about the location of the property. i.e. 123 Elm St, Oxbo, WI
- Facility identification number (FID #) if known. Many DNR records are filed by site and FID #. i.e. FID # 17 66 88 08 08 58
- Other identifiers such as case or permit number. i.e. permit number 88-MDS-17
- Dates when events of interest occurred. i.e. May of 2008 to September 2008.
- Other descriptive information about the subject or topic of interest. i.e. ABC Canoe stopped making laminated canoes in 2008 ~ why?
Reasonable limit: A request for a record that does not have a reasonable limit as to subject matter or length of time represented by the record may be difficult to process. If DNR personnel are unable to determine what records are being requested, they may ask the requester to be more specific. Requesters are responsible for determining which records from among those located are relevant to their specific needs.
Note: A diligent search will be made to locate the requested records. Keep in mind if looking for information regarding a specific property or business that identification of the location may have changed (e.g. business name changed;address may have changed from rural route to fire number; etc.)
Hours of business and times to inspect records: DNR records are available for inspection and copying during normal business hours. Arrangements must be made with the records coordinator or custodian at the location of the records.
Fees for copies of records
Note: DNR releases records to authorized photocopy firms that will make copies of records for you, working with you for fee collection. For all but very small jobs, this is the most efficient and cost-effective method.
- The Department charges actual, necessary and direct costs for locating and copying records. DNR has established the fees listed below. Not all record requests will require fees.
- If the fee is $50 or more we may require prepayment. We will review your request and contact you if prepayment of the fees is required for your request to be fulfilled.
- For fees of less than $50 or if prepayment is not required, we will send an invoice for payment along with the records.
Note: A 'Copy' includes a fax, scan, photocopy or computer generated page.
|Copies of 49 pages and under||Fee waived|
|50 pages and over||20 cents per printed page. Paper printed on both sides equals two pages; charged for all copies including the first 49 pages.|
|Copy and/or scanning fees (includes photocopy and computer generated)||If it takes three or more hours, actual salary of the person making the copies or scanning the document.|
|Location fee||$25 per hour if the cost to locate the records takes more than two hours.|
|CD/DVD/diskette||actual and direct cost|
|Photographic work, reproduction, transcription||actual and direct cost|
|Postage for mailing or shipping||actual and direct cost|
The DNR Open Records Coordinator maintains general information to help requesters locate records and provides policy and procedural information to comply with the records laws.