Do you Need a Permit for the Lake Mat?

At Lake Mat, we understand the trials and tribulations that our customers must go through to install new products. That is why we take the time to go over it with you. Do you need a permit to enjoy your beach? Well, it depends. Most do not, but some do, and this can vary for a wide range of reasons.

Depends on which state, agency, the person you talk to, the size of the area you want to cover, if it’s seasonal or not, and if it is a “natural water body or not”. Okay, this is where my head starts exploding.

First an observation — Not that I’d ever say anything about government bureaucracy…. But sometimes it seems like one hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing.

Lake and Stream Experts

Modern lake and stream experts know that lake weed control mats (also called bottom screens or aquatic weed barriers) are an excellent, “green” way to control lake weeds.  Lake weed barriers, like LakeMat Pro, are by far the most environmentally sound way to have a weed free beach.

Skepticism at some government agencies, comes from bygone days, when people threw old carpet, old fencing, old mattresses, tarps, and other dumb stuff in lakes to control weeds. It’s understandable that some regulations on lake weed control mats are behind the times. It may take a while to for them to catch up.

Some Examples of Permit Requirements

True story. I sold ten LakeMats to a “county government” in Wisconsin. A guy in the very next county wanted some LakeMats, but his local DNR agent said they weren’t legal. I called the agent… got nowhere — for months.

Then, I got an unsolicited email from an expert at the Wisconsin DNR. Turned out, they were legal. Here is a part of what he said:

“I first of all want to say that I like your product… Secondly, your mats fit well into our WI laws on aquatic plant removal since a single riparian owner cannot remove more than a thirty-foot width near an established recreational/navigational area… and your mats are no more than 30 feet wide…Wisconsin requires a permit for Aquatic vegetation removal of more than 30′ on a single riparian owners property.”

So, the “local agent” was simply uninformed — often, that’s what happens. But if it affects you, it can be very frustrating.

One state has a regulation that You MUST use a “weed barrier mat” when putting sand in your beach. It has another regulation prohibiting “weed barrier mats.” What the heck? You can’t have a Mat unless you put sand on it… then you must have one…

One state said, if it’s “seasonal” like a role-in dock, you dont need a permit, but for a “permanent” dock, you do need a permit. But what if you don’t take a role-in dock out in the fall? Is it permanent? Who knows?

One state agent said, “you can treat up to 1,600 square-feet without a permit,” and another agent from the same state said, “you can treat up to 1,600 square-feet with a permit.” Yikes!

In Canada, lake weed control mats are legal in most places… but not in some places…

6 out of 8 DNR agents had not heard of lake weed mats

I called one state’s DNR offices and spoke with eight people over two days about permits for weed barriers, or lake weed control mats (I used several terms).

The first six had no idea what I was talking about — and each referred me to another person. The seventh knew what I was talking about but didn’t know about permits.

Finally, the eighth agent knew about lake weed control mats. Guess what his answer was?  His answer was about permits — “It Depends!”

Most states do not require a permit for treating small areas – some states do. The most restrictive states I know of, Minnesota and Indiana, will issue permits if you meet certain criteria, (which may vary, depending on who interprets the criteria).

Permit regulations aren’t uniform. They can be confusing, especially when interpreted by local field agents who may not fully understand their own state’s regulations.  So, what you do with them… is up to you.

Overall, if you have a question regarding the permits on your lake. Ask Lake Mat and we will do our best to point you in the right direction! We know that this can be frustrating and that is why we want to help you find the best answer for what you need.