Do I Need a Permit?

Planning a project around a lake can present a number of unexpected problems. What needs a permit? What doesn't? Who do I contact for a permit(s)?

Permits are required for:

Chemical weed and algae treatment, Shoreline improvement and/or repair, Building construction, Piers, Boat lifts, Boat houses, Beaches/swimming areas, Ice shanties, Filling land, Burning leaves, Bonfires, Fences, Cattails, Lilly pads and Cutting down trees. Other activities may need a permit. Please contact the various units of government listed below to be sure.

Chemical Weed and Algae Treatment

A permit from WDNR is required prior to any chemical treatment or harvesting. Individual landowners may rake a small swimming area without a permit. The WLMD conducts chemical weed and algae treatments to reduce recreational impairments in Wind Lake. The map showing treatment areas is shown in the DNR permit.

Shoreline Improvement and/or Repair

A shoreline project will usually require a permit from Racine County Planning and Development and WDNR. For more information, visit the WDNR web site or search on “Wisconsin DNR waterway protection”.

Building Construction

A permit will be required from the Town of Norway Building Inspector and Racine County Planning and Development. Depending upon the location of the project, a WDNR permit may be required as well.


A standard, single-family pier does not require a permit. However, the pier must conform to the WDNR guidelines. Refer to the Pier Planner written by WDNR. It is available on the WDNR web site or search on “Wisconsin DNR Pier Planner”.

Boat Lifts

A boat lift does not require a permit, but should conform to the WDNR guidelines.

Boat Houses

New construction of boat houses is rarely approved. Permits would be required from WDNR, Racine County Planning and Development, and the Town of Norway.

Ice Shanties

Ice shanties are allowed on Wind Lake during winter. The WDNR and the Town of Norway have requirements for ice shanties. Contact the Town of Norway and WDNR.

Beaches and Swimming Areas

Plants may be raked out of a swimming area by hand. Property owners may remove plants from up to 30 ft along shore. Property owners are encourage to allow native plants to remain in place – this helps prevent the area from invasive species. Plants and fragments must be removed from the water. The WDNR rarely issues permits to put sand on the shoreline. WDNR does issue permits to landowners to put a pea gravel base down. These are a one-time only permit and certain conditions must be met. Contact WDNR for more information.

Filling Land

Filling, grading, and ditching activities near the lakeshore require a permit. Contact WDNR and Racine County Planning and Development.

Burning Leaves

Leaves should not be burned on the lakeshore or in ditches or areas that drain to a lake or stream. The Town of Norway has conditions that must be followed for burning, including hours of burning. Contact the Town of Norway.


Bonfires are not allowed on the ice unless in a container. The Town of Norway requires that bonfire pits should be at least 25 feet from the shoreline. Contact the Town of Norway.


Fences may or may not be permitted. Fences may be denied if the area is a floodplain. Contact the Town of Norway and Racine County Planning and Development.

Lilly Pads

Lilly pads are considered "good weeds." However, small areas may be controlled by hand pulling or chemical treatment. A WDNR permit is needed for any chemical control.


Cattails are considered "good weeds". However, small areas may be cut or mowed to provide access to the lake. A dredging permit is needed if cattails are to be dug out. Chemical treatment may also be permitted for particular situations. Contact WDNR to determine whether a permit is needed.

Cutting Down Trees

Trees are an important resource around a lake. They provide shade and habitat. They increase the aesthetics of the lakeshore. Clear cutting the shoreland area is usually prohibited. Contact Racine County Planning and Development for specific information on tree removal.

Contact Information

PO Box 222
Muskego, WI 53150

6419 Heg Park Rd
Wind Lake, WI 53185
Building Inspector

14200 Washington Ave
Sturtevant, WI 53177

9531 Rayne Rd, Suite 4
Sturtevant, WI 53177

To reach other Wisconsin DNR staff, search on “Wisconsin DNR staff directory”