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May 5, 2015

MADISON -- If you enjoy Wisconsin's Great Lakes beaches, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources would like to hear from you regarding the current listing of beaches and boat launches as well as upcoming changes regarding beach monitoring.

The public comment period, which runs until May 20, helps ensure DNR's beach list [PDF] reflects locally used names along with the current status of beaches and boat launches due to changing natural conditions and public access, said Donalea Dinsmore, Wisconsin beach program manager.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires all Wisconsin beaches along the Lake Michigan and Lake Superior shorelines to be identified and prioritized for water quality monitoring. A "beach" is defined as any place that the public has recreational access to the water, regardless of whether the location is used for swimming. Boat launches and some natural areas are included.

To maintain eligibility for funding under the federal Beach Act, state programs must provide an opportunity for public comment when changes to the list or monitoring program occur. The current list includes some new beaches; consolidation of some listings where there are no natural landmarks or access points separating stretches of coastline; identification of boat launches missing from previous lists; and several name changes.

Current federal funding totals $217,000 and supports operation of the Beach Health (exit DNR) website, monitoring in 13 counties and limited operational and special needs. Anticipated reductions in federal funding have prompted DNR to revise program plans with an eye toward sustainable operations in partnership with local communities and private or nonprofit organizations. As a result, more communities are being encouraged to supplement their water sampling with "Nowcasts," real time beach water quality models that provide beach-goers with more timely and accurate information about the water quality at their planned destination.

Through Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants, a number of beaches have redesign plans and communities are investing in beach restoration projects to improve water quality. These projects and the availability of Nowcasting were considerations in the overall monitoring plan design.

For the public comment period, citizens are being asked to focus on whether any beaches are missing or not properly identified on the list; whether there are some boat launches that are no longer active and should be omitted; and whether there are any concerns with additions, removals, or consolidated listings.

Public comments on the listings and potential program changes should be emailed by the close of business on May 20 to Donalea Dinsmore, For more information, search the DNR website,, for "Great Lakes beach program review."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Donalea Dinsmore, DNR Wisconsin beach program manager, 608-266-1926,; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084,

Last Revised: Tuesday, May 05, 2015

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