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Water Activities and Services

By directive of Minnesota State Statute Chapter 86B and Department of Natural Resources Boat and Water Safety Rules Chapter 6110, the Sheriff is tasked with regulating and maintaining the use of all public waters within Douglas County. To accomplish this, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office issues permits for water related activities including special events and temporary lake structures. This permitting process is established to ensure that all water related activities will not endanger the general boating public and will minimally impact neighboring lakeshore residents and the natural resources of the lake’s environment.

Water Patrol Deputies also inspect rental, lease, charter and for-hire watercraft. These inspections are conducted to ensure that these watercraft are sea-worthy and have required and dependable safety equipment.

This page provides links to the requirements, guidelines and applicable permits for these water related activities.

Special Event Permits


If you are holding or sponsoring an event that will originate, occur, or complete, on or directly adjacent to any lake, river, or waterway within Douglas County, you are required by Minnesota State Statute 86B.121 to have a Sheriff’s permit prior to the event. This permit is valid for the event specified in the permit application only. Any change to date, location, etc. requires submission of a new application.

Examples of activities that require a permit are:
- Fishing tournaments (both winter and summer)
- Boat races
- Parades
- Water ski, wakeboard, jet ski contests
- Water ski, wakeboard jumps
- Snowmobile radar runs

This Sheriff's Office permitting process, does not exempt fishing tournament organizers from obtaining an application and permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources or local city authorities.

Please see the Sheriff Office Special Event Permit Guide and Sheriff Office Special Event Permit Application links.

Temporary Structure Permits

If you plan on placing a structure in a lake, river or waterway (other than a dock or boat lift) within Douglas County for a period of time greater than one day (sunrise to sunset), you are required to first obtain a Temporary Structure Permit issued by the Sheriff’s Office. Some permits are valid for three years, some are renewed annually, please note the specific regulations of each permit.

The most common types of structures that require a permit are:

- Swim/dive rafts/Water trampolines and other floating play stations
- Designated Swim areas
- Public Swim Areas
- Mooring buoys
- Boarded ice skating and hockey rinks
- Water ski, wake board, jet ski courses
- Water ski, wake board jumps

Specific regulations for each structure are available under Related Documents. You may also download the complete permit packet.

Resorts, Charter Boat and Boat Rental Companies

If you rent or lease boats, PWC, canoes, kayaks or provide charter boat rides or cruises within Douglas County, your watercraft must be annually inspected by Water Patrol Deputies before you can legally rent, lease or charter your watercraft.

Please review the Water Patrol - Rental Watercraft Guideline to ensure your watercraft(s) are properly equipped prior to, and prepared for inspection. To schedule a Water Patrol Deputy to inspect your watercraft, please contact us by calling 320-762-8151 or emailing the department contact on the right side of this page.
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