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Lake Encroachment Permit Program


Lake Encroachment Permits (LEP) are issued under 29 V.S.A. Chapter 11 (Management of Lakes and Ponds), which regulates encroachment in public waters. The goals of this program are to minimize the encroachment on public waters as well as ensure that projects do not adversely affect the public good and are consistent with the Public Trust Doctrine.

Regional Contacts

Regional Map & Contacts

What projects require a Lake Encroachment Permit?

Projects encroaching on public waters such as docks, walls, boathouses, bridges, water intakes, cables, dredging, or fill, may require a permit.

Encroach means:

  • to place or cause to be placed any material or structure in any lakes and ponds which are public waters, or
  • to alter, or cause to be altered, the lands underlying any public waters, or
  • to place or cause to be placed any bridge, dock, boathouse, cable, pipeline or similar structure beyond the shoreline delineated by the mean water level of any lakes and ponds which are public waters, and to the lower sections of tributaries to Lake Champlain, Lake Memphremagog and the Connecticut River.

Certain small projects or activities are exempt. These include:

  • docks for non-commercial use, mounted on posts or floats - provided that the combined horizontal distance of all docks within 100 feet of each other which are owned/controlled by one person does not exceed 50 feet in length and the combined surface area does not exceed 500 square feet; and provided that concrete, masonry, earth or rock fill, sheet piling, bulkheading, cribwork or similar construction is not part of the encroachment
  • water intake pipes not exceeding two inches inside diameter
  • temporary extensions of existing structures added for a period not to exceed 6 months, if required by low water
  • ordinary repairs and maintenance, not including expansion or complete replacement
  • duck blinds, floats, rafts and buoys
  • the installation on lake bottoms of small filtering devices not exceeding nine square feet of disturbed area on the end of water intake pipes less than two inches in diameter for the purpose of zebra mussel control.


These activities may also require a Vermont Wetland Permit if there are wetland impacts.

Some projects may require a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a Section 401 Water Quality Certification from the Watershed Management Division.

Technical Assistance

The Lake Encroachment Program provides technical assistance regarding shoreline stabilization, encouraging nonstructural solutions where feasible. In general, maintaining a natural shoreline by reestablishing plant growth along the shore is less expensive and more beneficial than a wall along the shore.

Application for a Permit

A LEP application form may be downloaded: pdf format (129 KB) or Word format (39 KB). The scope and detail of the information required from an applicant depends on the specific nature of the project being proposed.

If you have any questions regarding the application form or whether a permit is necessary for your proposed activity, contact your regional permit analyst:

Regional Contacts

Regional Map & Contacts

Review Process


Once an application is complete, it is sent with a request for comments to adjoining landowners; local, regional and state offices; and other interested persons. The Watershed Management Division may conduct investigations, meetings, and site evaluations to verify information contained in an application. Generally it takes from 60-90 days for final decision to be issued once an application is considered complete.

The factors considered during the review of a project's effect on the public good include the water quality; fish and wildlife habitat; aquatic and shoreline vegetation; navigation, recreation and other uses; consistency with the natural surroundings; consistency with local ordinances or state plans; and the cumulative impact of other existing encroachments.

Applications are also reviewed for consistency with the Public Trust Doctrine. There must be some public purpose, public benefit, or both associated with the project in order for the application to be approved. In making this public trust determination, consideration will be given to the public purpose served by the encroachment, the public benefits created by the proposed encroachment, and any adverse impacts on public trust uses and the public resource as a result of the encroachment.


Appeal Process

A decision by the Department to issue or deny a permit may be appealed to the Vermont Environmental Court, 2418 Airport Road, Suite 1, Barre VT 05641-8701, Telephone (802) 828-1660, within thirty days of the date the decision is issued, pursuant to 10 V.S.A. Chapter 220.

Additional Resources


Updated: November 24, 2014

VT DEC Watershed Management Division 1 National Life Drive, Main 2  Montpelier, VT  05620-3522  Tele: 802-828-1535   Fax: 802-828-1544


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