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Wisconsin's Beach List

In anticipation of the beach season each year, the DNR's beach program reaches out to local beach managers and public health departments along Wisconsin's Great Lakes coasts to determine what changes, if any, are needed to Wisconsin's beach list and program information. Public comments and local knowledge of Wisconsin's Lake Michigan and Lake Superior shorelines provide the best information about our 55 miles of coastal beaches.

Public comments on the current year's beach list, including the risk-based rank, are welcome and accepted at any time. Send comments via email to DNRBeachHealth@Wisconsin.gov.

Additions and Changes to the 2021 Beach List

The following additions and changes have been made to the beach list since the previous posting.

County Addition or Change Beach Name Details
Bayfield Addition Washburn Marina Beach Kayak launch
Brown Change Bayshore Park Beach Begin monitoring
Kenosha Change Prairie Shores Beach Redesignated as a natural area

Listing Criteria

Wisconsin's beach list focuses on Great Lakes beaches because this determines eligibility for EPA's BEACH Act grants. Although the list is predominantly public beaches, privately owned beaches that are used by the public for swimming, bathing and other water contact activities are also included. Inland beaches are not eligible for BEACH Act grant funding, so they are not included on Wisconsin's beach list.

Listed beaches are evaluated by both pollution risk and usage. They are ranked in tiers, with monitoring frequency weighted toward locations with a higher risk of bacterial contamination. The coastal beach list and maps for each county are updated annually as appropriate and posted on the DNR website for public review and comment.

Criteria for listing beaches are found in EPA's National Beach Guidance And Required Performance Criteria For Grants.

Annual List Review

These are the types of questions used during the review of the beach list each year.

  • Are there coastal beaches missing from the list (e.g., new parks with beach areas)?
  • Is the location for the beach and its measurements correct?
  • Have conditions surrounding the beach changed (e.g., restoration, drainage, water levels)?
  • How is the water quality? Do we have historical data?
  • How many people use the beach? What do local people call (name) the beach?
  • Are nowcasts or other same-day tools in place to improve the timing for posting advisories?
  • Is the monitoring frequency appropriate for the usage, conditions and public notification tools in place?
  • Have beach program contacts changed?

Public Notification Systems

For beaches that are monitored, the beach program uses several mechanisms to notify the public of conditions at the beach, including:

  • colored signs or flags;
  • posting information on participating mobile applications; and
  • sending out email notifications.

Local beach managers may also notify the public of beach conditions using social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) and local park or public health websites.