Vermont Shoreland Encroachment Permit

Vermont state law 29 VSA 11 (Management of Lakes and Ponds) requires that a Shoreland Encroachment Permit be issued for projects that encroach on lakes and ponds that are public waters.

When It Is Required

“Encroachment” includes filling or altering of the land under lakes and ponds, as well as the construction of bridges, retaining walls, or docks in or over lakes and ponds. The law includes exemptions for certain dock structures, water intake pipes, rafts, and buoys. “Public waters” are defined as “navigable waters”, which means “Lake Champlain, Lake Memphremagog, the Connecticut River, all natural inland lakes within Vermont and all streams, ponds, flowages, and other waters within the territorial limits of Vermont, including the Vermont portion of boundary waters, which are boatable under the laws of this state.” (Note that the state definition of “navigable” differs from the federal definition used by the Army Corps of Engineers 33 CFR 329.4, which includes a requirement that the waterway be used for interstate commerce, and from the United States Coast Guard’s definition, which has additional criteria for navigability 23 CFR 650.807.) Private ponds and private preserves are exempt. Jurisdiction under this permit starts at the Mean High Water level. The Vermont Water Resources Board has developed Rules Determining Mean High Water Levels, which is generally the mean water level between June 1 and September 16. Transportation projects that might require a Shoreland Encroachment permit include bridge construction or abutment repair or construction of retaining walls.

Permit Process

Applicants submit an application form, location map, site plans, cross sections, and a narrative describing the proposed work to the Agency of Natural Resources. The permit is reviewed for completeness, and the permit reviewer may request additional information from the applicant. Once the application is complete, it is sent to adjoining landowners with a request for comments. A decision is made within 90 days, and work may begin after a ten day notice period.

No permit duration or expiration date is dictated by law.

Related Regulations

Regulatory programs with overlapping jurisdiction with the Vermont Shoreland Encroachment Permit Program include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

For More Information

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources DEC

Watershed Management Division

1 National Life Drive, Davis 3

Montpelier, VT 05620-3522


Permit applications, permit information and technical assistance are available from the ANR website.