The Public Trust Doctrine in Wisconsin

Important Cases

  • City of Madison v. Tolzman, 7 Wis. 2d 570, 97 N.W.2d 513 (1959).
  • DeGayner & Co., Inc. v. Dep’t Natural Res., 70 Wis. 2d 936, 236 N.W.2d 217 (1975).
  • Diana Shooting Club v. Husting, 156 Wis. 261, 145 N.W. 816 (1914).
  • Hilton v. Dep’t Natural Res., 2006 WI 84, 293 Wis. 2d 1, 717 N.W.2d 166.
  • Houslet v. Dep’t of Natural Res., 110 Wis. 2d 280, 329 N.W.2d 219 (1982).
  • Illinois Cent. R.R. Co. v. Illinois, 146 U.S. 387, 13 S.Ct. 110 (1892).
  • Just v. Marinette County, 56 Wis. 2d 7, 201 N.W.2d 761 (1972).
  • Lake Beulah Mgmt. Dist. v. DNR, 2011 WI 54, 335 Wis. 2d 47, 799 N.W.2d 73.
  • State v. Bleck, 114 Wis. 2d 454, 338 N.W.2d 492 (1983).
  • State v. Deetz, 66 Wis. 2d 1, 224 N.W.2d 407 (1974).
  • State v. Trudeau, 139 Wis. 2d. 91, 408 N.W.2d 337 (1987).
  • Wis. P. & L. Co. v. Public Service Comm., 5 Wis. 2d 167, 92 N.W.2d 241 (1958).

Scholarly Publications

Other Resources

The Foundation’s Work

To date, the Foundation has filed amicus briefs in two Wisconsin Supreme Court cases involving the public trust doctrine:

  • Lake Beulah Management Dist. et al. v. DNR et al. – The underlying issue in this case was whether the Department of Natural Resources has broad authority to regulate high capacity wells beyond the specific provisions set forth in the statutes by the Legislature. The Foundation argued that the DNR does not have broad general authorities.
  • Rock-Koshkonong Lake Dist. et al. v. DNR – The facts of the case involve a dispute between the Rock-Koshkonong Lake District and the DNR over state-controlled water levels at Lake Koshkonong. However, at issue in the case are fundamental questions about agency authority and the reach of the public trust doctrine.

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