Care of Exposed Lake Beds

Our shorelines have changed as a result of the drought. Biologists say that the first few yards of a lakefront are the most fragile. The Vilas Co. Lakes Assn. has issued a summary of rules that govern what to do with an exposed lake bed. Any exposed land below the ordinary high water mark (OHWM) is held in public trust. Such land is protected by state law and may involve getting approval and/or permits.

An example is the placement of sand or rocks on an exposed area. Any fill, such as sand or rocks or pea gravel at or below the OHWM may require a permit from county or local government. What about vegetation growing on exposed lake bed? There is a limit for clearance to a single 30-ft.-wide path on each property. In that space all vegetation can be removed by hand without a permit. Washed-up debris can be removed via shovel, rake and wheelbarrow without a permit. Motorized removal requires a permit.

Dredging rules are more complicated. To find out if you are exempt from permit requirements, google WDNR dredging permits.

For information on downed wood permit requirements, go to the following website:

http://dnr.wi.gov/waterways/shoreline_habitat/fish_wildlife.html