Weather events sometimes lead the Department of Natural Resources to restrict or close public freshwater lakes to motorboat traffic. This web page provides the boating public and lakefront property owners with current information on restrictions or closures at public freshwater lakes.
Last updated June 3, 2020
- None at this time.
How advisories are created
The DNR Law Enforcement Division uses an established policy to guide recommended restrictions based on conditions at a given lake.
After a condition or hazard is reported to the DNR, an Indiana Conservation Officer with the DNR Division of Law Enforcement investigates and recommends a course of action. The recommendation is reviewed by supervisors and forwarded to the DNR Director for final approval. Indiana Administrative Code (312 IAC 5-12) authorizes the DNR Director to modify or close public waters to watercraft use through a temporary order.
Depending on the reported conditions, the DNR Director can do one of the following:
- Restrict watercraft to daytime operation
Conditions: Large amounts of floating debris and or submerged objects which impose a significant impact to boating safety and/or navigation during night-time operation.
- Limit watercraft operations to idle speed
Conditions: Surface water will likely be inside dwelling structures as a result of wake.
- Prohibit motorboat operations
Conditions: Surface water is inside dwelling structures and motorboat operation, regardless of speed, would cause continued property damage.
- Close lakes to watercraft operations
Conditions: Potential dam failure or other catastrophic incident. 5. Any other restrictions Conditions: Unusual conditions or hazards not covered in steps 1, 2, 3 and 4.
Once a temporary order is in place, Conservation Officers continue to monitor the water levels. In some instances, the presence of U.S. Geological Service water gages allows them to check water levels on the Internet. In other instances, they monitor levels the old-fashioned way – they show up in person, often on a daily basis.
They also check weather forecasts to avoid lifting restrictions too soon.
When a temporary order is finalized, DNR Law Enforcement distributes a news release to media, uses social media, specifically Facebook, to share the information, and posts signage at public access boat ramps.
About water levels
Although the DNR has a regulatory role in the safety of many lake outlet structures, many are not owned by the DNR. Such structures often don’t have operable features, so water levels in most natural lakes are controlled by the natural cycle of rainfall, evaporation, wetland storage, and runoff.
In addition, since lake outlet structures may pose potential safety risks even in normal conditions they should be avoided especially during floods and times of high water.