DNR offers guidance to shoreland property owners struggling with damage after ice out

WAUSAU, Wis. – (RealEstateRama) — As spring weather sets in, some shoreland property owners in Northern Wisconsin are discovering Mother Nature has changed the look of their waterfront due to shifting ice over the winter months.

In some areas, partial thaws and high winds in February created ice heaves that deposited debris, damaged vegetation or reshaped shorelines in unexpected ways. On undeveloped lots, the problem may go unnoticed and the area will typically heal itself and regain vegetation over time. However, on developed lots where summer activity is more frequent, property owners may want to seek relief from a newly discovered pile of earth.

“We had several freeze-thaw cycles combined with high winds this winter that created some significant ice shoves,” said Keith Patrick, a waterway and wetland supervisor with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “The good news for many property owners is that by following a few simple rules, shoreline repairs can be made to address a newly formed ice ridge without need for state permits.”

For example, Patrick said:

  • The ridge may be leveled on site, provided the soil is kept out of the water or any wetland area. The material should be pulled back away from the water.
  • No machinery may be operated below the Ordinary High Water Mark or in the waterway.
  • Current county zoning rules must be followed and vegetation should not be removed from the bank.

The rules are designed to protect the critical transition zones between the land and the deeper water areas. Fish and wildlife depend on the areas for food, cover and travel areas.

The guidelines are for new ice ridges and cannot go beyond the scope of that project. Property owners interested in additional lakeshore work such as grading, rock riprap, tree or vegetation removal must check with the Department of Natural Resources or the local County Zoning Office. For additional information on this issue, property owners are encouraged to contact their county water management specialist. Visit dnr.wi.gov and search “waterway contacts.”

Contact(s): Keith Patrick, DNR waterway and wetland field supervisor, 715-365-8910, Keith.Patrick (at) wi (dot) gov; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084, Sereno.Jennifer (at) gmail (dot) com

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