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Contact information
For additional advice and assistance, contact:
DNR Open Records Coordinator
DNR Records Officer

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.

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 [PDF] 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.

Record description

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