Shoreline Erosion Control

10/4/07  To improve your shoreline, explore:  [tips for clean water on your shore]

7/17/06   During the past month, a sizable increase in the number of high-powered boats have been seen on the lake. These boats are used primarily for water skiing and tubing, resulting in heavy wave action on the shoreline around the lake. Many of the boat drivers are not keeping to the 100' clearance from piers, thus creating waves that are literally pounding the shore. Boat drivers need to be more aware of the 100' legal distance for safety and to prevent undesirable lake effects. Additionally, higher wave action tends to loosen weeds from their roots and carry them to swimming areas. Reducing wave action needs to be our goal; at least the part we have control over. High winds create strong wave action, but that we cannot control.

    The essence of the information contained here comes from a Wisconsin Association of Lakes convention held in Pewaukee, WI on Sat. Feb. 18, 2006. The session was entitled, "DNR Shoreline Erosion Control Permits", which attempted to explain basic concepts in shoreline protection and rejuvenation. The presenters explained that the DNR has been inundated with permit requests by landowners who are seeking to repair shoreline. The DNR has been downsized somewhat as a tax-saving measure. Accordingly, a new system is in place that, on the surface, seems more complicated but its' purpose is to speed up the approval process. In order to do that, the legislature is expecting homeowners to accept more responsibility in measuring things like "wave energy" along their shore. Forms are available from local DNR offices, such as at DNR headquarters in Rhinelander. Specific guidance on how to proceed in shoreline rehabilitation can be found at:

Follow the instructions on this web site for a step-by-step procedure in getting advice and how to obtain the necessary permit. Generally, permits will be required to place shoreline structures such as fiber logs, rock riprap or any type of seawall. "Riprap and seawall replacements may not exceed 100 feet long and the site must be a marina, navigational channel or where existing slopes are steep".  Riprap projects and seawall replacement projects must be on an inland lake or flowage of 300 acres or larger to qualify for the "general" permit, which is the least complicated and stringent.

In the past, a DNR expert often had to make a trip out to see property and meet with the landowner to determine what could or could not be done. That required quite a bit of time and now, with a leaner DNR, that's no longer possible. One main point of the presentation was to reassure homeowners that if help is needed to understand the forms and do the calculations, help is available at the DNR offices. At first the forms may appear to be too scientific and difficult to understand, but they are logical and can be completed with some concentration. The forms do require some computer skill, especially with the Internet. You will need to obtain a lake map from a DNR site ( and include it in your application. But, a minimal level of skill is needed.

There are two basic types of permits: 1) General, and 2) Individual. If a person meets the terms of the "General" permit - they get the permit. It will be issued within 30 days of the date it arrives at DNR offices. Which permit you need is determined by the amount of "wave force" or "wave energy" hitting your shoreline. The erosion control website above will show you how to calculate the "wave force". It is prudent to protect shoreline because once it's gone, you won't be able to put fill into any lake. And, if you put in "riprap" (stones or loose rock) on your shore or in the water, you MUST have a permit else risk being required to pull it all out, pay a fine, and pay to construct it again.