The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway was established in 1989 to protect and preserve the scenic beauty and natural character of the lower Wisconsin River valley. The Riverway encompasses over 96,000 acres of bluffs, bottomlands, islands and sandbars along the final 92 miles of the Wisconsin River.
The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board was also established in 1989. The Riverway Board is an independent state agency responsible for administering the aesthetic protection guidelines in the Riverway. The Riverway Board is composed of nine members; six members are local elected officials or local residents - one from each of the Riverway counties (Crawford, Dane, Grant, Iowa, Richland and Sauk) - and three members represent recreational user groups. (NOTE: A small portion of Columbia County is included within the project boundary.)
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) also has responsibilities in the Riverway. The DNR manages all state-owned lands in the project and administers a program to purchase lands or easements from willing sellers only. The traditional areas of DNR responsibility (e.g.; wildlife management, fish management, forestry management, environmental quality, endangered resources, enforcement, etc.) continue in the Riverway.
In addition, all local ordinances and regulations remain in effect, including the county floodplain/shoreland zoning ordinances. Therefore, certain activities in the shoreland area may require a permit from the county zoning office.