Legislation being considered at the Capitol would expand the rights of lake property owners. One provision of the complex and wide-ranging bill (SB 459) has to do with the rights of lake property owners to dredge muck off the bottom.

“I would argue that removing that muck would be of benefit to the lake, but others might think that muck is important,” said state Senator Frank Lasee (R-DePere).

The bill from Lassee and Representative Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake)  would apply the existing permitting standards for rivers to lakes.

But George Meyer with the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation said lakes are more ecologically sensitive. Take a 500 acre lake. There may only be 200 yards of shoreline on that lake that are valuable habitat,” Meyer said, adding that too much dredging could harm spawning areas for game fish.

The bill would allow inshore lake property owners to dredge 30 years annually — the equivalent of two to three dump truck loads. Owners of property on the Great Lakes would be allowed to dredge up to 100 yards annually.

“This would, I think, strike a balance of requiring the DNR to be involved, requiring best practices, placing limits on it, but allowing people to go out and do that if they desire,” Lasee said.

The bill was the subject of a lengthy public hearing before the Senate Natural Resources Committee. A companion bill in the Assembly (AB 600) has already passed a committee on a partisan vote.

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