Grants Available for Simple Lakeshore Projects

There is still time for eligible sponsors to start planning a Healthy Lakes project and to submit grant applications to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to fund projects that encourage private sector innovation in caring for Wisconsin’s lakes.

Funding is available to eligible sponsors for projects that improve fish habitat, integrate native plantings, divert and clean runoff water, and promote natural beauty. Eligible sponsors include lake groups, waterfront organizations and local governments.

Grants are capped at $25,000 and each Healthy Lakes best practice is capped at $1,000 in state funding. Applicants apply on behalf of lakeshore property owners. Application materials and assistance can be found at

“Water quality and good habitat go hand in hand. Together we get greater recreational use and better, more sustainable, property values,” said Carroll Schaal, DNR lakes and rivers section chief in the bureau of water quality. “The more property owners who implement one of the best practices, the greater the benefit for our lakes.”

Best practices that will be considered for funding include:

  • Deployment of “fish sticks.” These include whole downed trees stacked in a cluster and anchored to the shore either fully or partially submerged to protect shoreline erosion while improving fish and wildlife habitat. On average, fish stick projects cost about $500 for a cluster of three to five downed trees.
  • Installation of native planting packages. Native planting packages include plan designs and lists of suitable plants for areas at least 10 feet wide and covering a contiguous 350 square feet. For a 350-square foot area, installed costs total about $1,000.
  • Diversion of runoff water. By building small berms or shallow “dips,” homeowners can capture runoff from roads or paths and divert the water into an area where it can be absorbed. On average, a diversion practice costs about $200 installed.
  • Placement of rock infiltration pits or trenches. Installed costs average $3,800.
  • Installation of upland rain gardens. Rain gardens improve wildlife habitat while diverting and cleaning runoff water. While costs vary greatly depending on size and plantings, rain gardens average about $2,500 installed.

This year, to assist those that want to pursue the native planting option, the program has compiled a 350 ft2 Native Planting Companion Guide. The guide provides step-by-step instructions for creating your own planting beds that, based on your property and interests, can achieve several benefits.

The Healthy Lakes funding is not intended for large, complex sites with substantial runoff or erosion problems where engineering design is more appropriate.

Before undertaking any major projects, lake associations and homeowners are encouraged to consult local zoning ordinances. The Healthy Lakes initiative is an effort of the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership supported by DNR, the UW-Extension Lakes Program, Wisconsin Lakes, counties and the many lake groups and citizens who work to protect, improve and restore Wisconsin lakes.

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