Laws and Regulations

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Wisconsin State Legislature passed rules that required the Department of Natural Resources to create administrative rules for the protection of Wisconsin’s lakes and rivers. The protection of the waters of the state are given through the Public Trust Doctrine incorporated within the State Constitution. The Doctrine states that all navigable water are “common highways and forever free” and held in public trust.

Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 281.31 gave the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource (DNR) the direction to create a state wide set of standards on shoreland protection.

Wisconsin Administrative Code NR 115 – Wisconsin’s Shoreland Management Program. This administrative code is the basis used in creating the Model Ordinance that counties throughout the state have used in making their own local ordinances.

Fond du Lac County Shoreland Zoning Ordinance-Chapter 44 is the local ordinance created on March 17, 1971 that give the county the authority to regulate all aspects of activities along navigable lake and river shorelines throughout the county. The ordinance is enforceable in all unincorporated areas of the county.

The county ordinance regulates activities upland of the ordinary high water mark (OHWM) of navigable waters. The DNR regulates activities below, or into the water, of the OHWM through Wisconsin Administrative Code Chapter 30. Please visit the DNR Waterways & Wetlands web site at  for further information regarding water laws.