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Waterway protection

Here you will find all the information you need to identify DNR exemptions that may apply to your waterfront property development projects.

Waterway protection exemption determinations

Use this list of activities with statutory exemptions (with links to requirement checklists) to determine if an exemption is available for your activity. In some cases, a plan template is available.

Quick start guide

Chapter 30, Wis. Stats. provides permit exemptions for a small group of activities in navigable waters. By law, most exemptions are not allowed in "areas of special natural resource interest" (ASNRI). These areas include state natural areas, trout streams, outstanding or exceptional resource waters, and other waters designated by the department as having significant scientific value.

If your project site is an ASNRI, your project may not be exempt. In addition, some exemptions are also not allowed in locations of "public rights features" (PRF).

Getting started

  • First, determine the location of your project. To determine if your project site is an ASNRI or PRF, visit the designated waters mapping site, enter the information about your waterway, and record any designations that it may have. See the Designated Waters Search Tutorial to learn how to use this tool.
  • Begin by working out the details of your project. You may wish to consult various literature, professionals, and contractors for ideas.
  • Next, determine if your project qualifies for an exemption. Complete the checklists found under the exemption type list tab to determine if your project qualifies for an exemption.
  • If you determine that your project is exempt from permit requirements, you can go ahead and start the project. Please be aware that for some activities, state stormwater permits or other local and federal authorizations may be required.