- Contact information
- For additional advice and assistance if a request should be denied, contact:
- DNR Records Officer
Open records request
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is committed to the principles of open government and accountability. All persons are entitled access to information in the possession of the DNR, whatever its form. All records that are 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. Fees for requests are assessed as described below.
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
The following pages link to additional DNR information pages:
- Air Permits
- Air Quality & Health
- Drinking Water & Groundwater
- Environmental cleanup & brownfields redevelopment
- Environmental Protection & Enforcement
- Hazardous substance spills
- Waste Management
- Water Permits
- Customer lists - hunting & fishing licenses/permits
Hard copy & other records
The DNR creates records to serve the primary business purposes of the agency. Paper records may be in decentralized locations where the Department conducts business, in service centers and regional offices throughout the state, and in central office bureaus that are responsible for particular functions. Records may be duplicated across the agency. Many bureaus have permits, approvals, and other documents, stored in electronic format or on other electronic media. Emails are generally kept by the individual originator or recipient if it is an outside email.
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.
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 change (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, Monday - Friday 7:45 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. and 12:30 - 4:30 p.m. in DNR Central office except for legal holidays. To inspect records at other DNR offices, arrangements must be made with the records coordinator or custodian at that location. Click here for a list of DNR Service Centers.
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.
|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 Records Officer maintains general information to help requesters locate records and provides policy and procedural information to comply with the records laws.
Records Coordinators are appointed for each division, bureau and region. They also may provide advice and assistance to respond to Public (open) Records requests and help locate records. Contact the division that would be responsible for the records you are requesting and ask to be directed to their Records Coordinator.