Who may establish.
Any municipality may, subject to the approval of the department, by ordinance establish a bulkhead line and from time to time reestablish the same along any section of the shore of any navigable waters within its boundaries.
(2) Standards for establishing.
Bulkhead lines shall be established in the public interest and shall conform as nearly as practicable to the existing shores, except that in the case of leases under sub. (5)
and s. 24.39 (4)
bulkhead lines may be approved farther from the existing shoreline if they are consistent with and a part of any lease executed by the board of commissioners of public lands.
(3) How established.
Whenever any municipality proposes to establish a bulkhead line or to reestablish an existing bulkhead line, the municipality shall indicate both the existing shore and the proposed bulkhead line upon a map and shall file with the department for its approval 6 copies of the map and 6 copies of the ordinance establishing the bulkhead line. The map shall use a scale of not less than 100 feet to an inch or any other scale required by the department. The map and a metes and bounds description of the bulkhead line shall be prepared by a land surveyor registered in this state. The department may require the installation of permanent reference markers to the bulkhead line. Upon approval by the department, the municipality shall deliver the map, description and ordinance to the office of the register of deeds of the county in which the bulkhead line lies, to be recorded by the register of deeds.
(4) Riparian rights preserved.
Establishment of a bulkhead line shall not abridge the riparian rights of riparian owners. Riparian owners may place solid structures or fill up to such line.
(5) Finding of public interest. 30.11(5)(a)(a)
Prior to the execution of any lease by the board of commissioners of public lands concerning rights to submerged lands or rights to fill in submerged lands held in trust for the public under s. 24.39
, the department shall determine whether the proposed physical changes in the area as a result of the execution of the lease are consistent with the public interest. Thirty days before making its determination, the department shall notify, in writing, the clerk of the county and clerk of the city, village or town in which the changes are proposed and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of the application for the lease. In making its finding the department shall give consideration to all reports submitted to it. The department shall not approve a lease applied for under s. 24.39 (4) (a) 2.
if the department determines that the lease may threaten excessive destruction of wildlife habitat.
When considering leases to allow certain initial improvements such as, but not restricted to, filling on submerged lands to create sites for further facilities, the department may determine whether such initial improvements are consistent with the public interest in the navigable waters involved even though the exact final use to which these improvements will be put is not known. The department, at the time it finds that a proposed lease would be consistent with the public interest in the navigable waters involved, may include in its findings such limitations upon the use of improvements as it considers necessary to confine their use to functions primarily related to water transportation or otherwise of public benefit. The board of commissioners of public lands shall include in the lease such limitations on final use as is determined by the department.
Upon the complaint of any person to the department that current use made of rights leased under s. 24.39 (4)
is inconsistent with both its original findings and the public interest, the department shall hold a public hearing thereon after the publication of a class 2 notice, under ch. 985
. If the department finds that the present use conforms neither to its original finding nor to the present public interest, it shall submit its findings to the governor. The governor may cause the attorney general or the district attorney of the proper county to bring action in the name of the state in a court of competent jurisdiction to declare the lease terminated and to institute appropriate action for removal of structures or cessation of practices in violation of such lease.
(6) Shoreline not invalidated.
A shoreline lawfully established before January 1, 1960, is a lawfully established bulkhead line.
A bulkhead line is not merely the natural shoreline, but one legislatively established by a municipality. It may differ from the existing shoreline and is also distinguishable from the low- and high-water marks previously judicially defined. State v. McFarren, 62 Wis. 2d 492
, 215 N.W.2d 459
The private right to fill lakebeds granted under this section does not preempt the zoning power of a county over shorelands under s. 59.971 [now 59.692]. State v. Land Concepts, Ltd. 177 Wis. 2d 24
, 501 N.W.2d 817
(Ct. App. 1993).
When a bulkhead line has been established, a riparian owner must nonetheless obtain a permit or contract pursuant to s. 30.20 prior to removing material from the bed of a navigable water landward of the bulkhead line, but within the original ordinary high water mark. 63 Atty. Gen. 445.
A bulkhead line is not legally established until the filing requirements of sub. (3) are met. A bulkhead line established by a town on lands subsequently annexed to a municipality that has not established such line, remains in effect. 64 Atty. Gen. 112.
Structures and deposits in navigable waters. 30.12(1)(1)
Unless an individual or a general permit has been issued under this section or authorization has been granted by the legislature, no person may do any of the following:
Deposit any material or place any structure upon the bed of any navigable water where no bulkhead line has been established.
Deposit any material or place any structure upon the bed of any navigable water beyond a lawfully established bulkhead line.
A riparian owner is exempt from the permit requirements under this section for the placement of a structure or the deposit of material if the structure or material is located in an area other than an area of special natural resource interest, does not interfere with the riparian rights of other riparian owners, and is any of the following:
A deposit of sand, gravel, or stone that totals less than 2 cubic yards and that is associated with any activity or project that is exempt from an individual permit or a general permit under this subchapter.
A structure, other than a pier or a wharf, that is placed on a seasonal basis in accordance with rules promulgated by the department.
A fish crib, spawning reef, wing deflector, or similar device that is placed on the bed of navigable waters for the purpose of improving fish habitat.
A bird nesting platform, wood duck house, or similar structure that is placed on the bed of a navigable water for the purpose of improving wildlife habitat.
A boat shelter, boat hoist, or boat lift that is placed on a seasonal basis adjacent to the riparian owner's pier or wharf or to the shoreline on the riparian owner's property, in accordance with rules promulgated by the department.
A pier or wharf that is no more than 6 feet wide, that extends no further than to a point where the water is 3 feet at its maximum depth, or to the point where there is adequate depth for mooring a boat or using a boat hoist or boat lift, whichever is closer to the shoreline, and which has no more that 2 boat slips for the first 50 feet of riparian owner's shoreline footage and no more than one additional boat slip for each additional 50 feet of the riparian owner's shoreline.
An intake structure and pipe that is placed on the bed of a navigable water for the purpose of constructing a dry fire hydrant to supply water for fire protection.
A piling that is driven into the bed of a navigable water adjacent to the owner's property for the purpose of deflecting ice, protecting an existing or proposed structure, or providing a pivot point for turning watercraft.
Riprap in an amount not to exceed 100 linear feet that is placed to replace existing riprap located in an inland lake or Great Lakes water body and that includes the replacement of filter fabric or base substrate.
Riprap in an amount not to exceed 300 linear feet that is placed to repair existing riprap located in an inland lake or Great Lakes water body, and that consists only of the placement of additional rock or the redistribution of existing rock within the footprint of the existing riprap.
A biological shore erosion control structure, as defined by rule by the department.
An intake or outfall structure that is less than 6 feet from the water side of the ordinary high-water mark and that is less than 25 percent of the width of the channel in which it is placed.
(1m) Duck Creek Drainage District structures and deposits.
A structure or deposit that the drainage board for the Duck Creek Drainage District places in a drain that the board operates in the Duck Creek Drainage District is exempt from the permit requirements under this section if either of the following applies:
The department of agriculture, trade and consumer protection, after consulting with the department of natural resources, specifically approves the structure or deposit.
The structure or deposit is required, under rules promulgated by the department of agriculture, trade and consumer protection, in order to conform the drain to specifications approved by the department of agriculture, trade and consumer protection after consulting with the department of natural resources.
The department may promulgate rules concerning the exempt activities under sub. (1g)
that only do any of the following:
Establish reasonable installation practices for the placement of structures or the deposit of material to minimize environmental impacts.
Establish reasonable construction and design requirements for the placement of structures under sub. (1g) (c)
, and (km)
that are consistent with the purpose of the activity.
Establish reasonable limitations on the location of the placement of structures or the deposit of material at the site affected by the activity.
Notwithstanding par. (a)
, the rules under par. (a) 1.
may not establish practices or requirements that prohibit the placement of structures or the deposit of material or that render the placement of structures or the deposit of material economically cost-prohibitive.
(2m) Permits in lieu of exemptions.
The department may decide to require that a person engaged in an activity that is exempt under sub. (1g)
apply for an individual permit or seek authorization under a general permit if the department has conducted an investigation and visited the site of the activity and has determined that conditions specific to the site require restrictions on the activity in order to prevent any of the following:
Significant adverse impacts to the public rights and interests.
Material injury to the riparian rights of any riparian owner.
A person may submit to the department a written statement requesting that the department determine whether a proposed activity is exempt under sub. (1g)
. The statement shall contain a description of the proposed activity and site and shall give the department consent to enter and inspect the site.
The department shall do all of the following within 15 days after receipt of a statement under par. (a)
Enter and inspect the site on which the activity is located, subject to s. 30.291
, if the department determines such an inspection is necessary.
Make a determination as to whether the activity is exempt.
Notify in writing the person submitting the statement which general or individual permit will be required for the activity, if the department determines that the activity is not exempt.
If the department does not take action under par. (b)
, the department may not require at any time that the person proposing to engage in the activity apply for an individual permit or seek authorization under a general permit unless required to do so by a court or hearing examiner.
If a statement under par. (a)
is not given or if the statement does not give consent to inspect, the 15-day time limit under par. (b)
does not apply.
The department shall issue statewide general permits under s. 30.206
that authorize riparian owners to do all of the following:
Place a layer of sand or similar material on the bed of a lake adjacent to the owner's property for the purpose of improving recreational use.
Place riprap in order to replace or repair existing riprap, other than riprap that is exempt under sub. (1g) (i)
Place riprap on the bed or bank of a navigable water adjacent to an owner's property in an amount up to and including 100 continuous feet in an inland lake of 300 acres or more.
Place riprap on the bed or bank of a navigable water adjacent to an owner's property in an amount up to and including 300 continuous feet in a Great Lakes water body.
Place crushed rock or gravel, reinforced concrete planks, adequately secured treated timbers, cast in place concrete or similar material on the bed of a navigable stream for the purpose of developing a ford if an equal amount of material is removed from the stream bed.
Place crushed rock or gravel, reinforced concrete planks, cast in place concrete or similar material on the bed of navigable waters adjacent to the owner's property for the purpose of building a boat landing.
Place a permanent boat shelter adjacent to the owner's property for the purpose of storing or protecting watercraft and associated materials, except that no general or individual permit may be issued for a permanent boat shelter that is constructed after May 3, 1988, if the property on which the permanent boat shelter is to be located also contains a boathouse within 75 feet of the ordinary high-water mark or if there is a boathouse over navigable waters adjacent to the owner's property.
Place a seawall to replace an existing seawall for which a permit has been issued under this chapter. The replacement may not exceed 100 continuous feet in an inland lake of 300 or more acres and may not exceed 300 continuous feet in a Great Lakes water body.
The department may promulgate rules that specify structures or deposits, in addition to those listed in par. (a)
, that may be authorized by statewide general permits.
The department may impose conditions on general permits issued under par. (a) 6.
to govern the architectural features of boat shelters and the number of boat shelters that may be constructed adjacent to a parcel of land. The conditions may not govern the aesthetic features or color of boat shelters. The conditions shall be designed to ensure the structural soundness and durability of boat shelters. A municipality may enact ordinances that are consistent with this paragraph and with any conditions imposed on general permits issued to regulate the architectural features of boat shelters that are under the jurisdiction of the municipality.
For a structure or deposit that is not exempt under sub. (1g)
and that is not subject to a general permit under sub. (3)
, a riparian owner may apply to the department for the individual permit that is required under sub. (1)
in order to place the structure for the owner's use or to deposit the material.
The department shall issue an individual permit to a riparian owner for a structure or a deposit pursuant to an application under par. (a)
if the department finds that all of the following apply:
The structure or deposit will not materially obstruct navigation.
The structure or deposit will not be detrimental to the public interest.
The structure or deposit will not materially reduce the flood flow capacity of a stream.
Any person violating this section or any term or condition of a permit issued pursuant thereto shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than 6 months or both.
History: 1975 c. 250
; 1977 c. 130
; 1981 c. 226
; 1981 c. 390
; 1987 a. 374
; 1989 a. 31
; 1993 a. 132
; 1995 a. 27
; 1997 a. 35
; 1999 a. 9
; 2001 a. 16
; 2003 a. 118
In a state proceeding to enforce a DNR order requiring an owner of land abutting a navigable lake to remove a quantity of fill, the burden of proof is on the state to establish the nonexistence of a bulkhead line. State v. McFarren, 62 Wis. 2d 492
, 215 N.W.2d 459
Sub. (1) (a) does not apply to conduct that only indirectly and unintentionally results in deposits on lake beds. State v. Deetz, 66 Wis. 2d 1
, 224 N.W.2d 407
When a DNR decision prohibited a structure under this section and the riparian owner did not seek review under s. 227.20 [now 227.57], the trial court had no jurisdiction to hear an action by the owner seeking a declaration that the structure was a "pier" permitted under s. 30.13. Kosmatka v. DNR, 77 Wis. 2d 558
, 253 N.W.2d 887
"Navigable waters" under this section are waters that are navigable in fact. A ski jump was a "structure" under this section. The public trust doctrine is discussed. State v. Bleck, 114 Wis. 2d 454
, 338 N.W.2d 492
Section 66.24 (5) (c) does not exempt sewerage districts from the requirements of s. 30.12. Cassidy v. DNR, 132 Wis. 2d 153
, 390 N.W.2d 81
(Ct. App. 1986).
An area need not be navigable to be a lakebed. The ordinary high water mark is determinative. State v. Trudeau, 139 Wis. 2d 91
, 408 N.W.2d 337
The holder of an easement does not qualify as a riparian owner. De Nava v. DNR, 140 Wis. 2d 213
, 409 N.W.2d 151
(Ct. App. 1987).
In considering whether a proposed structure is detrimental to the public interest, the DNR is authorized to weigh relevant policy factors including the preservation of the natural beauty of the state's waters, the public's fullest use of the waters, and the convenience of riparian owners. Sterlingworth Condominium Association v. DNR, 205 Wis. 2d 710
, 556 N.W.2d 702
(Ct. App. 1996), 95-3526
Review of local ordinances may be made in making a determination under sub. (2), but is not required. Issuance of a permit conditioned on compliance with a local ordinance was reasonable. Borsellino v. DNR, 2000 WI App 27, 232 Wis. 2d 430
, 606 N.W.2d 255
Although in granting pier permits under s. 30.12 the DNR acts in furtherance of the public trust, a cause of action cannot be based only on a general allegation of a violation of the public trust doctrine. Borsellino v. DNR, 2000 WI App 27, 232 Wis. 2d 430
, 606 N.W.2d 255
Regulation of boathouses and houseboats. 30.121(2)(2)
After December 16, 1979 no boathouse or fixed houseboat may be constructed or placed beyond the ordinary high-water mark of any navigable waterway.
The riparian owner of any boathouse or fixed houseboat extending beyond the ordinary high-water mark of any navigable waterway may repair and maintain the boathouse or fixed houseboat if the cost of the repair or maintenance does not exceed 50% of the equalized assessed value of the boathouse or fixed houseboat. If the boathouse or fixed houseboat is not subject to assessment, the owner may make repairs if the cost of the repair or maintenance does not exceed 50% of the current fair market value of the boathouse or fixed houseboat.
(3g) Exception; historical or cultural value. Subsection (3)
does not apply to the repair or maintenance of a boathouse or a fixed houseboat if the boathouse or fixed houseboat has a historic or cultural value, as determined by the state historical society or a local or county historical society established under s. 44.03