Here’s the law: “lights shall not shine onto navigable waters.”
Jim Brakken, BCLF Northwest Waters & Cable Lake Association
It’s hard to match the beauty of nature, especially at the lake. The unique qualities of water, such as reflection, wave action and rhythm, along with the shoreland plants and terrain cannot be improved upon by man. From first light to dusk our lakes present beautiful views. But after dark, when all is quiet and serene, the moon and stars provide just enough light to give us a very special gift, the wonders of the lake at night. Whether from porch, deck, dock or boat, we take in the captivating, mysterious evening views.
But wait, what’s that shining on the shore? It’s not the soft glow of a cabin window. It’s not a campfire. It’s a solar powered decorative light! These small, inexpensive lights are now being used as yard ornaments rather than to light the way. To make matters worse, when seen from the lake, each individual light appears twice when reflected on the water. Although some waterfront homeowners feel they look good near their shore, many others disagree. These lights abruptly interrupt the beauty of the lakeshore at night. When seen from the lake, they are light litter that intrudes on, not improves on, the splendid evening views of the lake.
Although there may be no problem using decorative lights in the back yard or driveway, waterfront homeowners cannot legally use them as lawn decorations if they can be seen from the lake. Decorating your dock or lawn with lights takes something special away from others who value the beauty of the lake at night. Our county shoreland lighting ordinance specifies that “lights shall not shine onto navigable waters.” and “Where lighting is used to illuminate walkways . . . only fully shielded cut-off style light fixtures shall be used.”
Please consider placement of decorative walkway lights carefully. Driveways and back yards may be okay, but not the lakefront. It’s not just wrong, it’s illegal. Remember, when it comes to beauty, Mother Nature needs no help.
Bayfield County has specific regulations on shoreland lighting. Violations should be reported. Contact the Planning & Zoning Dept at 373-6138.