how Wisconsin protects waterways by holding them in trust for everyone to enjoy.
the permits you need for your waterfront property projects.
about the permit process that protects public waters.
Waterway and wetland information line
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Waterway protectionWetland disturbance

This page ONLY describes PERMITTING requirements for activities that are KNOWN TO IMPACT wetlands.



See Wisconsin Wetlands for general information about wetlands including the functions and values of wetlands, wetland types, wetland mapping, and restoration and management.

Grading, filling, removing or disturbing soil
in a low area or wetland

Wetlands are regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and by local counties, cities and villages.

The excavating or placement of any material in low areas or wetlands requires a DNR permit. The DNR has both general permits and individual permits available. DNR reviews your project to determine if it complies with the requirements of section 281.36, Wis. Statutes, and NR 299 and NR 103, Wisconsin Administrative Code. State regulations require avoidance of wetland fill if possible, so in your application you will need to demonstrate that you cannot avoid or reduce wetland impacts, and that your project will not have significant adverse impacts on wetland functions and values.

Publications explaining DNR’s review process

General permits

There are general permits available for discharges to wetlands. Each general permit allows applicants to apply for wetland impacts up to the amount allowed under the particular general permit that fits your project.

For a list of wetland general permits available and to apply for a general permit, please visit Water Permits to apply for permits.

Individual permits

For those projects that do not meet the standards to be eligible for a General Permit, Individual Permits are available.

A pre-application meeting with DNR Water Management staff is REQUIRED for all wetland individual permit applications. The meeting will help you design an approvable project and complete your application. Please use our Pre-Application Meeting Checklist [PDF] to gather information that will ensure the meeting is as productive as possible.

Note: Wetland mitigation is also REQUIRED for all wetland individual permits.

Additional information

For more information about wetland permits, see Wetland Regulatory Programs.

If you are impacting a wetland as part of a cranberry bed creation or expansion please visit Cranberry Projects.

Federal government

A permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) may also be required for wetland fill or excavation projects. To determine if an Army Corps permit is required for your project, please contact your local Army Corps Project Manager [exit DNR] for the county where your project is located. They will evaluate your proposal and respond to you separately. See Army Corps St. Paul District [exit DNR] for more information on Corps regulations.

Local governments

Fill and other activities in or near wetlands may also be regulated by county, city or village zoning. Contact your local zoning office for more information.

If grading, filling or other wetland activities is proposed on agricultural lands, contact the appropriate Natural Resources Conservation Service [exit DNR] office.

Wisconsin wetland inventory maps and soils maps can be viewed at most county zoning offices. For incorporated areas -- cities and villages -- contact the City Building Inspector, City Engineer or Village Clerk for that incorporated area. Copies of the Wisconsin Wetland Inventory maps can also be viewed at the DNR Service Center offices, or purchased in printed or digital form (see Wetland Mapping).

Applicable Wisconsin statutes and codes

Last revised: Tuesday March 18 2014