State of the Beach/State Reports/WI/Beach Description

From Beachapedia

Home Beach Indicators Methodology Findings Beach Manifesto State Reports Chapters Perspectives Model Programs Bad and Rad Conclusion

Wisconsin Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access88
Water Quality74
Beach Erosion6-
Erosion Response-5
Beach Fill2-
Shoreline Structures6 3
Beach Ecology3-
Surfing Areas55
Coastal Development{{{19}}}{{{20}}}
Sea Level Rise{{{21}}}{{{22}}}


The Great Lakes basin is rich in natural beauty. More than 33 million people inhabit the basin, enjoying a wealth of natural resources and relying on freshwater supplies that make up one-fifth of the world's surface total.

Contact Info for the Lead Coastal Zone Management Agency

Wisconsin Department of Administration
Wisconsin Coastal Management Program
101 East Wilson Street, 10th Floor
P.O. Box 8944
Madison, WI 53708-8944
Phone: (608) 267-7982

Coastal Zone Management Program

The Wisconsin Coastal Management Program (WCMP) was established in 1978. The program leverages the abilities of state agencies, regional planners, universities and local governments for the management of resources along the state's 820 miles of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior shoreline. The 15 Wisconsin counties along Lakes Superior and Michigan comprise 19% of the state's total area and 37% of its population. If left unmanaged, pressures from coastal population growth would degrade water quality and wetlands, reduce sensitive habitats and limit opportunities for access to public waters. WCMP's goal is to achieve a balance between natural resource protection and coastal communities' need for sustainable economic development. The WCMP is dedicated to preserving and making accessible the natural and historic resources of Wisconsin's Great Lakes Coasts. The program works cooperatively with state, local and tribal government agencies and non-profits in managing the ecological, economic and aesthetic assets of the Great Lakes and their coastal areas.

The WCMP is a voluntary program that works through the Governor-appointed Wisconsin Coastal Management Council (WCMC) to award federal funds to local governments and other entities for the implementation of coastal initiatives. The WCMC provides coastal stakeholders a forum for discussion of emerging and critical issues.

Wisconsin Coastal Management Program's A Strategic Vision for the Great Lakes (October 2007) describes Wisconsin’s federally approved Coastal Management Program for the Great Lakes.

The 2006 Coastal Assessment and Strategy describes the WCMP this way:

The Wisconsin Coastal Management Program (WCMP), in the Department of Administration’s Division of Intergovernmental Relations, is a “networked” program of existing state agencies and programs. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), and Public Service Commission (PSC) are the primary implementing agencies for coastal management regulations and programs. The WCMP issues no permits and purchases no land. It makes funds available to the above state agencies to improve their management capabilities. It coordinates the activities of these agencies so that a consistent coastal management effort is carried out in the state.

Dairy farming, forestry, agriculture, tourism, water recreation, and shipping are Wisconsin's major coastal industries.

Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, Needs Assessment and Strategy, 2011-2016 summarizes the state’s current "Section 309" program and the proposed priority enhancement areas.

NOAA's latest evaluation of Wisconsin's Coastal Management Program can be found here.


  1. Public Access: A Policy Study/1976 by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource, Table D-3
  2. Mike Friis, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program. Personal communication. March 2003.
  3. Bernd-Cohen, T. and M. Gordon. "State Coastal Program Effectiveness in Protecting Natural Beaches, Dunes, Bluffs, and Rock Shores." Coastal Management 27:187-217. 1999.

State of the Beach Report: Wisconsin
Wisconsin Home Beach Description Beach Access Water Quality Beach Erosion Erosion Response Beach Fill Shoreline Structures Beach Ecology Surfing Areas Website
2011 7 SOTB Banner Small.jpg