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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 Buying sensitive shorelands

Owning sensitive shorelands outright or securing agreements with property owners to keep their shorelands in a natural state in perpetuity are increasingly popular tools to protect water quality and habitat along lakes and rivers. The DNR buys property and makes agreements to hold such land; it also provides grant funding to local government and groups to do the same. Many groups are doing so with great results for lakes and rivers.

Read about this success story in Chippewa County: A Super Deal Pays Off for Long Lake.

Funding to Help Your Organization Buy Shoreland Property

The state and some counties have a number of grants to help local organizations and government purchase sensitive shorelands.

Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. This innovative state program provides 50 percent match grants to local governments and nonprofit conservation organizations to buy land or get easements for conservation and recreation purposes.

DNR Lake Protection and Classification Grants. 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.

DNR River Planning and Protection Grants. These grants support existing and emerging organizations in planning, protecting and restoring local river systems, including buying property.

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