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Mooring buoys

Waterway protection

A mooring buoy floats in water and is anchored away from the shoreline to which boats can be moored in deeper water.



Exemptions and permits

  • There are no exemptions for mooring buoys.
  • Water Permits - choose the "Waterway and wetland" tab and then find activity "Mooring buoys."

Mooring buoys within 150 feet of shore do not require a state permit if it doesn't affect public rights (fish and wildlife habitat, navigation, etc.) or other riparian owners.

Marker buoys

Sometimes you may want to place buoys for other reasons, such as to mark a swimming area or a waterski course.

Any placement of informational and regulatory buoys must be approved by the local DNR Conservation Warden and by the local unit of government.

To apply for a permit to place a marker buoy, visit Waterway Markers for permit applications.

To place a mooring buoy further than 150 feet from shore, you will need to apply for a permit. Visit Waterway Markers for permit applications. Please note that an Individual Mooring Justification Worksheet [PDF] must be completed and sent in with your permit application.

Permits may also be needed for mooring buoys from your local municipality. Check local ordinances before placing a mooring buoy.

Depending on how many boats can be moored on your shoreline, a state permit for your mooring buoys may be needed. Visit Piers to learn more about the number of boats that can be moored on your shoreline.


Applicable statutes and codes include Section 30.74(2), Wis. Stats. [PDF exit DNR] and Chapter NR 5.09, Wis. Adm. Code [PDF exit DNR].

Local permits and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulations may also apply. We advise you to contact your local zoning office and your regional U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office [exit DNR].