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Learn
about the programs that provide a healthy Wisconsin shoreland, a system of native plants and trees thriving in and around the shallow water.
Find
resources provided by local communities that offer zoning ordinances to guide development near navigable lakes and rivers.

Did You Know?
Lakes and rivers belong to the state's citizens. See: The Public Trust Doctrine.
The number of homes on lakes of all sizes increased 216 percent from the 1960s to 1995.
See: Development Trends in Northern Wisconsin.

As northern lakes are developed...
Songbirds decrease and grackles, cowbirds and other common species increase.
Green frog populations decrease.
Musky, trout and bluegill populations decrease.
See: Preserving Fish and Wildlife Habitat.

Contact information
Visit our Wisconsin Shoreland Zoning Contacts page to find out who to contact regarding your property.

Safeguarding our shorelands Research on water quality

Taking a Secchi Disk Reading

Secci disk measuring water clarity.

Often, people choose to purchase a waterfront property based on how they plan to enjoy the water -- be it for enjoying the peaceful, natural setting or the abundant fishing, swimming, or boating opportunities. While many opinions exist over what the perfect shoreline looks like, most of us agree that clear water is desirable.

Minimizing the presence of impervious surfaces in the shoreland area can help to ensure that many of the recreational opportunities our lakes and streams offer are preserved. Water clarity can be influenced by the presence of impervious surfaces in two ways.

Runoff from impervious surfaces washes pollutants such as sediments, phosphorous, nutrients, bacteria, car fluids and other chemicals into our lakes and streams. Runoff and the erosion it causes can be a serious problem for both the property owner and the lake. Gullies or large eroded channels are unsightly and may result in loss of property when soil is carried to the lake.

An unfertilized waterfront lot that has 20 percent impervious cover carries six times more phosphorus to the lake than an undeveloped lot of the same size. This additional phosphorus can fuel algae growth in our waters, which lowers water clarity and overall aesthetics.

From "Impervious Surfaces - How they affect fish, wildlife and waterfront property values" [PDF exit DNR] UW-Extension Center for Land Use Education. WT-990 2012.

The following links provide information about the impacts of development on the water quality of our lakes and streams.

This list of resources should not be construed as being complete. It is only part of a collection of resources and research that DNR employees use as a reference in their day-to-day work. This list is in no way an endorsement of these organizations, but rather a resource for the public who may be interested in shoreland related issues.

Contact information
For more information about this page, please contact:
Shoreland policy coordinator
Bureau of Watershed Management
Last revised: Monday May 22 2017