Shoreland zoning protects your property values

If you’re shopping for waterfront property, you should know about shoreland zoning and the rules that go with it. No one likes rules. But the first thing you should know is that these rules don’t just benefit fish, birds, and wildlife, they benefit you

By preserving the up north qualities of our lakes and streams, these rules also preserve your property values. Even up here in NW Wisconsin, some lakes have a more urban feel. Other lakes, however, still have a relatively undeveloped feel – even though most of their shoreline is developed. Views are preserved, privacy is preserved, and so are property values.

Second, it’s important to know that certain minimum standards are in place in Wisconsin. In some counties, and even on certain lakes and streams, the rules are more strict. Existing homes, of course, are grandfathered in. But if you’re building on shoreland anywhere in Wisconsin, you’ll need to meet these minimum standards:

  • Lot size. Lots served by a public sanitary sewer must have a minimum average width of 65 feet and a minimum area of 10,000 square feet. “Unsewered” lots must have a minimum average width of 100 feet and minimum area of 20,000 square feet.
  • Buffer strip. Clear-cutting of trees and shrubs isn’t allowed in the strip of land from the ordinary high-water mark to 35′ inland. One exception is for a 30′ wide path, for every 100′ of shoreline, down to the water. That allows you to reach the water, have a great view from your living room, and still protect your privacy. (And also, by the way, preserve the view of whoever lives across the lake.)
  • Setbacks. All buildings and structures must be set back at least 75′ from the ordinary high-water mark. Exceptions include piers and boat-hoists. And, if an existing pattern of development exists, some counties may have a “setback averaging” system that allow homes to be built closer to the water. On certain bodies of water, though, setbacks are increased to 125′ – or, in rare cases, up to 300′.

This is just an overview; for details on these and other shoreland zoning provisions, contact the DNR or county officials. Keep in mind, too, that existing homes are grandfathered in. When you buy one, you obviously can’t do much to change the lot size or setback. You can, however, take steps to restore the buffer of natural vegetation along your home’s waterfront.

But don’t try shoreline restoration just because it’s good for the environment. Do it if you’d like to increase your privacy, see more birds and wildlife, and catch mroe fish. (And also, by the way, spend less time mowing your lawn.)

Buying or selling in NW Wisconsin? Call Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin Realtor. 218-590-6634. Or visit


Today’s aerial video of a NW WI lake.

Can you name this lake?

Shoreline Restoration

Shoreline Restoration

In my earlier post on shoreland zoning, I mentioned a concept called shoreline restoration. Maybe that deserves a little more explaining. By the way, I’m here to explain the concept, not to preach.

In fact, don’t try shoreline restoration just because it’s good for the environment. Do it if you’d like to increase your privacy, see more birds and wildlife, and catch more fish. (Ald also, by the way, spend less time mowing your lawn.)

In fact, if your perfectly manicured lawn extends all the way to the water’s edge, the easiest way to get started with shoreline restoration is to simply stop mowing that area. A more active approach, however, might involve the planting of new trees and native plants. that can take some planning, site preparation, and maintenance.

It can also take some expertise; it’s not as simple as a person might think. You’ll want to plant native, non-invasive species that do well on your site. But you’ll also want to choose plants that deer won’t devour the night after you plant them.

For some free tips, and maybe even some plants to get you started, contact the DNR or your local officials. They’ll be glad to help you out.

Dreaming about buying a lake cabin? Choosing the lake or water type that’s right for you.

Buying a lake home in NW Wisconsin? Choosing the lake or water type that’s right for you.

Here we’ll examine the lake or water type that best suits your lifestyle.

Every buyer approaches the search process differently.  I’ve worked with some people, for example, who were very particular about the features they wanted in their new lake home; they were less concerned about where it was located.

I’ve also worked with buyers who prefer to start by choosing a lake—or at least by narrowing down their search to a very short list of lakes.  Only then do they begin looking for the place that’s right for them.  Choosing the right lake is their #1 priority; for them, this step comes first.

That’s a very good idea; every lake has its own distinct character. Do you want a home on a large recreational lake or a small quiet lake? Would riverfront property work best for you?

Large lakes, often the most desirable because they offer a greater variety of recreational activities, typically have homes and cabins with the highest price tags.

If you are willing to settle for a smaller lake, the same home may come with a smaller price tag. Chances are the lake is going to be quieter. Lakes below a certain size (about 200 acres) just aren’t very interesting for jet skis and water skiers; they tend to see more pontoons, fishing boats, or canoes.

You’ll have fewer neighbors and you’ll probably get to know them better. Depending on the lake, fishing pressure may be lighter.

Would riverfront property work for you? The same cabin or home will sell for less on a river than it would if it were on a lake. People tend to prefer lakes; maybe it’s because you can usually get out and do more on them than you could on a river.

Most rivers, especially smaller ones, just won’t offer the same boating or recreational opportunities as a lake would. In some cases, you may be able to travel upstream or downstream in a boat – or at least in a canoe or kayak. You may even have what’s essentially your own private fishing hole.

With some riverfront properties, the river may be too small or the current too swift. You’ll mainly just be able to sit and enjoy the river view. Still, if your waterfront is a small creek that you can see from your livingroom window, there’s something special about being near the water. It can also attract a lot of wildlife that you’ll be able to watch.

Check out all the Buying a Lake Home tips in the Buyers tab above. You’ll also find more information about many of the lakes and rivers in the NW Wisconsin Lakes and Rivers tab above.

As you are thinking about your ideal lake home or cabin, you’ll want to consider the type of water that works best for your lifesyle and budget. Visit to start your lake home search.

Best walleye fishing lakes in Douglas County Wisconsin

Based on information from Sportsman’s Connection Northwest Wisconsin Fishing Map Guide Northern Region, you’ll find the best walleye fishing in Douglas County in these lakes:

Best Walleye lakes in Douglas County Wisconsin
Lake County Abundant Common
Amnicon Douglas X
Dowling Douglas X
Lyman Douglas X
Minnesuing Douglas X
Nebagamon Douglas X
Upper St Croix Lake Douglas X
Whitefish Douglas X

You’ll find more information about many of the individual lakes mentioned in the table above under the tab NW Wisconsin Lakes and Streams.

If you are dreaming of your own lake home or cabin on one of these lakes, start your search at Search by map, lake name, or town name. Or, give me a call, I’ll be happy to help you find your dream home or cabin on a great fishing lake. 218-590-6634

Just sold: Beautiful 4 BR home on Lake Minnesuing, 10740 E Efaw Ln, Bennett, WI.

Just sold: Beautiful 4 BR home on Lake Minnesuing, 10740 E Efaw Ln, Bennett, WI.
List: $349,000
Sell: $325,000

Perfect for your family retreat, private getaway, or full-time, year-round lake home.  When you drive in from the tall pines and cedars and get your first glimpse of this home, its design says tradition. However, it was built in 2002, and as soon as you step through the front door, you’ll see that this home says “family fun at the lake”. With 220’ sand bottom frontage on 423-acre Lake Minnesuing, there’s plenty of swimming, fishing, and lake enjoyment. The home is nestled in towering pines and cedars. The home is bright and welcoming with an open floor plan. Maple and cherry paneling, cabinets, and many built-ins throughout. Maintenance-free metal siding. Four-season sunroom and full-length deck. Gently sloping walkway to lakeside firepit & sandy swim area. Half-hour to Superior/Duluth.

  • An open, sunny floorplan.
  • Incredible views from nearly every room in the house.
  • Custom maple and cherry cabinets in the kitchen.
  • More maple and cherry paneling and built-ins throughout the home.
  • Breakfast bar and informal dining area.
  • Gas fireplace in living room.
  • In-floor radiant heating.
  • Sunroom that’s fully insulated and ready to enjoy all year round.
  • Mudroom with built-in storage compartments for coats and boots.
  • Lower-level walkout ready to finish to your own tastes.

Outdoors, you’ll find:

  • 3.6 acres dotted with towering pines and cedars.
  • A front porch, wraparound deck overlooking the lake, and lakeside firepit.
  • A gently sloping walkway to the shoreline.
  • An included dock.
  • Maintenance-free metal siding and a low-maintenance yard so you can enjoy your weekends relaxing by the lake rather than worrying about chores.

More about Lake Minnesuing: This 423-acre lake has a maximum depth of 43’ and a mean depth of 18’. According to the DNR, its bottom is 55% sand, 40% gravel, 4% rock, and 1% muck. In it, you’ll find northern pike, walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, trout, and panfish.

An important note about Minnesuing’s water clarity: Although Secchi disk readings average around 7 feet, the lake’s reduced clarity isn’t due to mud, pollution, or algae. Rather, it’s due to natural tannins found in spruce and tamarack bogs that are nearby and upstream. This natural phenomenon occurs in many of the North’s most pristine wilderness lakes.

For more information about this listing or other area listings, visit my website or call me at 218-590-6634

1- and 2-acre lakeshore lots for sale on St Croix Flowage at Gordon WI

St Croix Flowage lakeshore lots for sale –  Gordon, Wisconsin

8414 Flowage Ln, Gordon, WI

New price: $85,900 – 2.13 acre building lot with 269′ sandy frontage on the St. Croix Flowage, Gordon, WI.

Lot 2 Flowage Ln, Gordon, WI

2.13 acre lakeshore lot with 269′ sandy frontage on the St Croix Flowage.

Lot 2 Flowage Ln, Gordon, WI

New price: $83,900 – 1.02 acre building lot with 166′ sandy frontage on the St Croix Flowage, Gordon, WI.

Lot 2 Flowage Ln, Gordon, WI

1.02 acre building lot with 166′ of sandy frontage on St Croix Flowage, Gordon, WI

About the Minong Flowage/Cranberry Lake – one of NW Wisconsin’s most popular recreation and fishing lakes

About the Minong Flowage/Cranberry Lake – one of NW Wisconsin’s most popular recreation and fishing lakes

The Minong Flowage is a 1,564-acre impoundment of the Totagatic River created by a dam completed in 1937.  Most of its bottom is sand; its maximum and mean depths are 21’ and 9’.  Although much of the Flowage is deep, open water, some of its shallow bays contain tree stumps and aquatic vegetation.  The fishery consists mainly of walleye, northern pike, largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie, and yellow perch.  The Flowage is also popular for boating, waterskiing, and paddling.

About Cranberry Lake: Cranberry Lake is a 172-acre lake with 2.76 miles of shoreline. It has a maximum depth of 19 feet and a mean depth of 11 feet. Its littoral bottom is 95% sand and 5% muck. According to the DNR, you’ll find numerous northern pike, walleye, largemouth bass, and panfish. Cranberry Lake is connected to the Minong Flowage by the Cranberry Narrows, a stretch of water that’s passable by small and medium-sized boats. The bridge at Highway T has enough clearance for fishing boats and most pontoons. Once you’re under the bridge, you’ll find yourself in the Minong Flowage.

>Minong Flowagein a larger map

Some parts of the Minong Flowage see a fair amount of boat traffic.  Other areas are much quieter; on a typical day, you might only see a few fishing boats go by.  Although a fair number of homes have been built on the Flowage, it still has an up-north feel.  You’ll often see loons, eagles, and other wildlife. 

On the other hand, you can also go for a boat ride, dock at restaurant, and then after dinner motor home as the moon rises over the Minong Flowage.  Here, you really can have the best of both worlds.

Listings available on the Minong Flowage/Cranberry Lake.


Buy now: Fall season offers great real estate bargains in Douglas County, Upper NW WI

Here in NW Wisconsin, land of clear, deep lakes and tall pines, there are many real estate bargains; properties that may be overlooked because they are located on a smaller lake, near but not lakefront, or may be an older cabin that has been lovingly maintained.

This fall offers some great bargains, lake homes and cabins that have been overlooked. It’s a great property, location, good to excellent condition, and priced appropriately but simply has not sold. There is an inventory of homes and cabins but not enough buyers.

The home may have been initially overpriced and now priced appropriately, but because it’s been sitting on the market for several months buyers have moved on.

Buyers may be going after that elusive perfect up north chalet or log home on the big, deep, full recreation and fishing lake with perfect level sandy beach front, priced under $300,000, overlooking many fine properties on smaller lakes.

There are some great homes sleeping on the market simply because there’s so much inventory.

It’s still a great time to come look at properties in NW Wisconsin. If you’re sitting on the sidelines waiting for another price reduction, don’t wait. Buyers and investors are out now snapping up these sleepers. If you are watching one of the sleepers, now might be the perfect time to make your move. Make sure you have your pre-approval from your loan officer ready to go. Then make your move! Or someone else might beat you to it!

Sleepers available in Douglas County, Wisconsin (just 2.5 hours from the Twin Cities, 1.5 hours from Eau Claire, 45 minutes from Superior/Duluth):

Douglas County WI homes for sale.


Gardening and Real Estate

From NAR Resort Life Blog: Gardening and Real Estate.

A great article about how cultivating second home buyers is like gardening.