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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.
Frequently requested records
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.
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. We will review your request and contact you if a fee will be required. Some fees will require prepayment of the fees before the request can be fulfilled. Note: A 'Copy' includes a fax, scan, photocopy or computer generated page.
|Per page fee for copying/scanning/printing||25 cents per page (paper printed on both sides equals 2 pages)|
|Location fee||$25 per hour if the cost is $50 or more*|
|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 agency will not charge for the cost of reviewing records for possible redaction or removal of confidential information, in compliance with the Wisconsin Supreme Court's ruling in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel v. City of Milwaukee, 2012 WI 65, 341 Wis. 2d 607
- Reproduction costs will not be charged on a per-page basis if the agency provides electronic copies of records that already existed in electronic format.
- Chapter 19.31-39, Wis. Stats.
- Wisconsin Department of Justice, Public Records Resources
- "Is this a simple open records request?"
- Manual Code 9521.1, Open Records Policy & Procedures Management
- Manual Code 9522.1, Email, Electronic Records & the Records Laws
- Manual Code 9523.1, Records Management
- DNR Open Records Coordinator Guide
- Open Records Process Flow Chart
*If the hourly rate of salary and fringe benefits for lowest paid employee capable of locating records is less than $25 per hour it must be billed at that employee’s hourly rate.
DNR policies, procedures and guidance resources
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.