OHWM – What is it?
OHWM is short for Ordinary High Water Mark. The OHWM is the point on the bank or shore up to which the water, by it’s presence, wave action or flow, leaves a distinct mark on the shore or bank. The mark may be indicated by erosion, destruction of, or change in vegetation or other easily recognizable characteristics.
If you are a riparian the land above the OHWM is your private domain. When the water level drops below the OHWM, the riparian property owner has exclusive use of the exposed lake bed.
(Riparian – One who owns land abutting a lake, river, or other body of water. Under the riparian principle, all landowners whose property is adjoining to a body of water have the right to make reasonable use of it.)
The Wisconsin DNR has two documents which may help explain OHWM and your rights. One is “Ordinary High Water Mark” the other is “Public or Private“. They also have a web site “The ordinary high water mark – what is it?”
Also, please see the page Care of Exposed Lake Beds for important information on how to protect the exposed lake beds.
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