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about the programs that provide a healthy Wisconsin shoreland, a system of native plants and trees thriving in and around the shallow water.
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 Financial incentives for restoring shorelands

Lakeshore Home

Planting trees to restore the buffer.

Carol LeBreck, a Bony Lake property owner and Bayfield County Lakes Forum member, tapped state funding to restore shorelands along the 191-acre lake.

Read the press release... Lake property owners "turn back the clock" to protect clean water, habitat.

Tap into government and lake association grant programs aimed at helping you and other shoreland property owners cover the costs of restoring your site to a more natural state that will better protect water quality and provide habitat. Read how Burnett and Vilas county programs are spurring landowners to restore their shorelands: At Water's Edge.

Incentives for you and other individual property owners

A growing number of local governments and lake associations offer tax credits or reimburse you for costs associated with maintaining or restoring natural shorelands.

Local government funding opportunities

Check with your local land conservation and water department to see if there are any financial incentives available in your area for shoreland restoration.

Land and Water Conservation Board [PDF exit DNR].This is a list of county land conservation contacts to call or email.

Here are a few examples

Burnett County

Annual $50 tax credit to property owners enrolled in their Shoreland Incentive Program. Natural Shorelines - Managing Waterfront Property [exit DNR]

Vilas County

The Vilas County Land and Water Conservation Department helps pay the cost of natural shoreland restoration. Northwoods Lakes Project [exit DNR]

Walworth County

The county's Land Use & Resource Management Department helps pay the cost of natural shoreland restorations. Land Use & Resource Management Department (LURM) [exit DNR]

Lake organizations

Many lake organizations offer financial incentives for shoreland restoration, using their own funds or grant money secured through government grant programs. The Green Lake Association offers such a program through its Revitalization of Shoreland Vegetation Project [exit DNR].

  • Check with your local lake organization. Lake List [exit DNR] - a searchable directory of lake organizations and the businesses that serve them.
  • Check with Wisconsin Lakes [exit DNR]
    Susan Tesarik
    Education Coordinator
    608-661-4313 or
    Toll free (Wisconsin only) 800-542-5253

Incentives for your local organization

Several state programs provide matching grants to local organizations and government to help pass on to property owners funding for shoreland restorations and technical assistance.

Read how municipalities and other local groups have used these programs to create: "The Ripple Effect" - June 2005 Natural Resources magazine article.

Lake planning and protection grants

For information on which groups and projects are eligible to apply for grants that can pay for buying land or securing agreements to protect shorelands, to help restore shorelands, or to develop local ordinances to protect lakes, see Lake Protection and Classification Grants.

River planning and protection grants

Wisconsin's River Grants support existing and emerging organizations in planning, protecting and restoring local river systems. For information, see River Planning and Protection Grants.

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