How to opt up or down from the 100 foot buffer rule

Beginning in the 2010 boating season, all boaters are required by law to go slow when near shore. Some lakes may need a distance from shore no-wake limit that differs from the new 100 foot requirement. To address this concern, an opt-out provision was included when the 100’ from shore no-wake law was written. It allows local governments to make exceptions. These exceptions can either increase or decrease the distance from shore a boat may travel at high speed. BCLF STRONGLY RECOMMENDS THAT ALL LAKES SEEK A GREATER BUFFER. A 200 FOOT BUFFER WOULD MATCH THE REQUIREMENT FOR PWCs AND MAKE OUR LAKES MUCH SAFER AND HEALTHIER.

To opt up or down, first petition your town board or municipal government to seek an exception. (Your local lake association or sportsmen’s club can ask for this, although any individual may also make the request.)

If your request appears on the upcoming agenda, the officials may choose to hold a public hearing on the issue. This hearing must be noticed in advance per state regulations.Information at the public hearing will be recorded and used to help make the decision. After the hearing, usually at the next town board or city council meeting, the officials may choose to make the change. If so, their decision, upon approval of the DNR, will likely go into effect. (The DNR will look for obvious exceptional conditions that conflict with the change. If none are found, it is very likely that the DNR will approve.)

Once approved by both the local government and the DNR, both will arrange to publicize the new regulation and post signs. Marker buoys may need to be ordered and placed, unless the new regulation affects the entire lake. The new rule may take place immediately or at a time recommended by DNR or the local government.  Because of the increased liability created when a town chooses to decrease or eliminate the 100 foot from shore no-wake buffer, there may be insurance riders needed. Consult your town board for information.

Considering that this process takes time, it may be practical to begin this action at the earliest possible opportunity. For more information on the ‘ Safe Lakes’ bill, see other pages on