State of the Beach/State Reports/WI/Beach Fill

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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}}}


State, Territory, and Commonwealth Beach Nourishment Programs, A National Overview (NOAA, March 2000) provides the following information:

"The state does not have policies regarding beach nourishment.

Related Policies

Near Shore Sand Mining Regulations

Wis. Stat. §30.20. Regulates removal of material from beds of navigable waters.

Dredge and Fill Regulations

Wis. Stat. §30.12 and 30.20. Prohibits dredging, filling and dredged material disposal under certain circumstances. Filling above the high water mark or behind an approved bulkhead line to nourish a beach does not require a DNR permit.

Sand Scraping/Dune Reshaping Regulations

Wis. Stat. §30.19 and 144.30(9). Regulates grading or removing of top soil of the banks of navigable coastal water.

Public Access Regulations

Wis. Stat. §70.41 and 236.16(3). Requires public access to all navigable waters.

Beach Nourishment Funding Program

There is no state funding program for beach nourishment."

The criteria used to evaluate permit applications for beach fill projects include impacts on fish and wildlife habitat and the potential for sediment contamination. A permit is required if the fill is deposited on state-owned lakebed.

Wisconsin DNR has developed a fact sheet on allowable beach maintenance activities. Also see here.


Information on beach fill in Wisconsin is limited.

The report Summary of Beach Nourishment Activity Along the Great Lakes' Shoreline 1955-1996 lists 9 beach nourishment projects along Wisconsin's Lake Michigan shoreline between 1985 and 1992. The projects were in Kewaunee, Two Rivers, Sheboygan, Milwaukee, and Racine. The report lists beach location, date, funding type, volume, length, and cost for each project.

The following U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) site notes beach fill in the context of a dredged material disposal project associated with the Duluth-Superior Harbor: The following site also describes this project:

The Wisconsin DNR's publication list includes the following: An Evaluation of Beach Nourishment on the Lake Superior Shore (1985). From the conclusions of that report:

Although there was no evidence to show detrimental impacts resulting from this demonstration project, beach nourishment has limited potential at this time as a viable alternative for disposal of significant quantities of dredged sediment from Wisconsin harbors. "Contamination" problems are currently very difficult to define; therefore, only very limited amounts of dredge material can now be classified as truly "clean" and suitable for beach nourishment.

An important result of this project was realizing the need to properly classify harbor sediments for safe use and/ or disposal. More extensive testing and analysis of sediments is necessary, and the current EPA guidelines need to be re-examined and revised to more realistically describe and categorize them. We recommend continued investigation into these difficult procedural and classification problems in order that Great Lakes harbor sediments can be used or disposed of in the best and most efficient ways possible.

The Fiscal Year 2017 Civil Works Budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides $4.62 billion in gross discretionary funding for the Civil Works program. This budget lists proposed projects and the associated budget justification by state.

State, Territory, and Commonwealth Beach Nourishment Programs: A National Overview (2000) is a report NOAA/OCRM that provides an overview of the problem of beach erosion, various means of addressing this problem, and discusses issues regarding the use of beach nourishment. Section 2 of the report provides an overview of state, territorial, and commonwealth coastal management policies regarding beach nourishment and attendant funding programs. Appendix B provides individual summaries of 33 beach nourishment programs and policies.


Greg Hill
NRDA Coordinator
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Phone: (608) 267-9352

Mike Friis, Program Manager
Phone: 608-267-7982

State of the Beach Report: Wisconsin
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