Landowners, have you considered adding a rain garden or native plants to your shoreline?  By stopping run-off from entering your lake or river, you can protect them for future generations.  A rain garden or native planting can provide beautiful flowers all summer long.  They will bring more wildlife to your yard and deter geese and even reduce mosquitos.

Through the DNR’s Surface Water Grants program you can learn about the Healthy Lakes program and their grant opportunities.  Healthy Lakes & Rivers offers a 5 Step Process to apply and receive funding.

  1. Review the grant application.

Visit the Wisconsin DNR’s Surface Water Grants Website to learn more about the grant program. Check in with your local DNR Environmental Grant Specialist and Lake Biologist to be sure your group is eligible to apply and get guidance on next steps.

  • Recruit shoreland property owners to participate.

Contact folks around your lake or river to see if they are interested in implementing a Healthy Lakes & Rivers practice on their property. Successful recruitment tools include presenting at your lake or river organization meeting, surveying your community, hands-on workshops, and good ol’ door knocking.

  • Complete initial site visit and design work.

Once you know who will be implementing Healthy Lakes & Rivers practices on their property, set up site visits to identify where the practices will be implemented and determine if any design work is needed.

The following resources can help make your project happen:

1. Local citizen champions – perhaps a master gardener or retired engineer

2. Landscapers

3. Native Plant Nurseries of Wisconsin

4. Wisconsin Restoration Contractors

5. Graduates of the Lakeshore Habitat Restoration Training for Professionals

6. County Land and Water Conservation Departments

7. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and University of Wisconsin-Extension professionals

8. Healthy Lakes & Rivers Team members

9. Decision Tool: Managing Runoff with Healthy Lakes & Rivers Practices

  • Apply for funding.

Use your shoreland property owner list and site visit work to complete the Healthy Lakes & Rivers Grant application. In the application list participating properties and the best practice(s) and cost(s) for the given properties. You should also describe the lake(s) and/or rivers(s), partners, and how the project fits into other planning efforts. Healthy Lakes & Rivers applications are due November 1st each year, and funding is determined by March. The grant program is competitive and successful applicants give considerable thought to their project before applying. Work with your regional DNR Lake Biologist and Environmental Grants Specialist to create a strong application.


1. Application

2. Authorizing resolution

3. Map with project (i.e. parcel) locations

  • Your grant is awarded. Congratulations! Now what?

The DNR will notify you whether or not you received a grant award. If you were successful, you will receive a Grant Agreement soon after this good news. The Grant Agreements are standardized across all Healthy Lakes & Rivers projects and require the same deliverables. Healthy Lakes & Rivers Grants are reimbursement grants. This means the shoreland property owner or grant applicant spends his/her/their own money and then gets reimbursed by the state. Be sure to track volunteer time and project expenses. Now you are ready to roll!

Again, if you’re interested in a project, Forest County Land & Water can help with the application and design process.  For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at .

Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County Land &Water Conservation Department. For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at .