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Ordinances and waterway markers

Before boating on unfamiliar Wisconsin waterways, check for a sign at the public boat landing to determine if there are local regulations (more restrictive than state law) that may apply on that water body.

Boating ordinances

Wisconsin law allows local municipalities to enact local regulations relative to boating in the interest of public health, safety or welfare, including the public's interest in preserving the state's natural resources.

Local municipalities may have regulations governing such things as water skiing, shore zones, speed limits, etc. State boating law provides a general framework of regulation, but it is up to local municipalities to provide regulations tailored to local conditions. The authority to enact local regulations is found in Chapter 30.77 of the Wisconsin Statutes.

Municipalities that would like assistance or advice in drafting local regulations should contact their regional law enforcement safety specialist at your regional DNR headquarters.

Waterway markers

Once a boat speed limit or controlled area has been lawfully established, regulatory signs or buoys may be posted by the local government pursuant to a permit issued by the Department of Natural Resources. The department grants permits to governmental entities pursuant to Section 30.74(2), Wis. Stats., and Chapter NR 5.09, Wis. Adm. Code, which specifies buoy standards and permit requirements. Local municipalities may also receive a permit to place aids to navigation such as channel buoys or hazard markers.

Last Revised: Wednesday April 15 2015