Frequently Asked Questions About Piers

a wet golden retriever on a wooden pier in a lake


MCLA has been fielding more questions lately about whether or not riparian land owners can have piers.

You can find all the answers you need on the Wisconsin DNR’s website at

Here are some highlights from the DNR website:

  • Piers are a popular focus for boating and waterfront recreation. What pier owners need to know is that they can continue to place their existing piers on the water, the same as they’ve been doing for years. 
  • Most existing piers and wharves are grandfathered.
  • All existing piers and wharves that do not have a valid state permit and that were first placed in the water before April 17, 2012 are exempt from needing state approval and can be placed in lakes and rivers the same as they always have with few limitations.

On the DNR site, you will also find a helpful tool to determine whether a permit is needed and a FAQ about piers.

If your question isn’t answered on the site, you can call the Waterway and Wetland Information Line at 608-267-3125 or email

Updated: December 28, 2020 — 8:11 am

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