Economics & Value of Lakes
Land Use Planning
Wisconsin's Jewels in the Landscape
Lakes are beautiful natural resources. They are also places where we gather together to watch sunsets off piers, tell fish stories, and enjoy fun in the sun and tranquil moments. Our collective memories "at the lake" are an important part of why so many of us are interested in lake protection. Lakes are a reflection of the health and activity occurring in the surrounding landscape. A healthy lake is made up of a many components. Water quality and shorelands support aquatic plants and fish and wildlife. Wisconsin lakes face many challenges including: development pressure, polluted runoff, aquatic invasive species, changes to shorelands, and groundwater withdrawals.
Waterfront property owners, other citizens, and our communities benefit economically as a result of the amenities that shoreland zoning preserves: clean water, wildlife, scenic beauty, and recreational opportunities. Surveys of Wisconsin lakefront property owners and visitors consistently rate these as the amenities that attract them to the water.
Check out these fact sheets for a sampling of the many public and private benefits provided by healthy waters:
Dramatically changing land use patterns, can directly affect the quality of lakes. Increasing development density within a lake's watershed can negatively impact lakes by reducing water quality by increasing the amount of polluted runoff making its way into our lakes from roads, lawns, construction sites, storm sewers, and other sources. Loss of habitat for fish and wildlife, recreational use conflicts, and changing aesthetics can also occur as landscapes change.
Local governments have used a variety of tools—lake classification, comprehensive "Smart Growth" planning, strengthening shoreland zoning standards, developing ordinances— to help protect lakes and plan for development within the watershed.
Many lake people are involved in local land use planning processes at the town and county levels. Participating in land use planning can help ensure that lake interests are considered in the larger community planning process.
Planning is policy-oriented, and a planning process is designed to foster public input; the plan should be a reflection of the community’s desires. A comprehensive plan is prepared by a planning commission or committee and is adopted by the governing body. The plan sets forth broad goals, objectives, policies and recommendations that may be implemented using a variety of tools. Local land use actions and regulations such as zoning and land division regulations must be consistent with a locally adopted comprehensive plan.
Comprehensive planning resources (exits site)
Citizen's guide to land use planning (exits site)