LAW & PUBLIC SAFETYPublic SafetyBoat and Water   

Boat & Water Safety

Safety on the Water


 Swim Raft     Water Event

Buoy or Swim Raft Permit

   Water Event Permit

The Boat and Water Safety Division is responsible for the promotion and enforcement of watercraft safety regulations, marking navigational hazards and ensuring the safe condition of rental watercraft.

Their role is to: Whaler

• Enhance safety on the waterways of St. Louis County
• Respond to water emergencies
• Abide by Minnesota Statute 86B1.5
• Promote boat and water safety and enforcement
• Buoy designated waterways
• Train and equip personnel for water search and rescue

The Boat and Water Safety Division has two purposes: buoying and boat and water enforcement, including training and accident response.

  • Buoying:  St. Louis County hires a private contractor for buoying services on Lake Vermillion, Burntside Lake, and Shagawa for hazard/channel markings to improve watercraft navigation and safety.  Currently 290 buoys are placed in these designated lakes as a service to area boaters.  Learn more about Buoy permits....


  • Boat & Water Enforcement, Training and Accident Response:  The St. Louis County Sheriff, under MN Rules Chapter 86B.105, is the primary law enforcement agency responsible for search, rescue, patrol and inspection of watercraft on the lakes, streams and rivers in St. Louis County.  Deputies and Rescue Squad personnel participate in search and recovery of drowning victims.  Deputies participate in watercraft enforcement patrols throughout the county on grant-paid overtime projects. 


  • Water Related Accidents: If someone has a water related accident or drowns, it must be reported to the Sheriff.  This is covered by MN Rules Chapter 86B.105 and 6110.1900.


  • Lifejackets: Every person on board a watercraft or duck boat shall wear or have readily accessible a U.S. Coast Guard approved Type I, II, or III personal flotation device.  This is covered by Chapter 6110.1200 Sub. 3.

  • Swimming Areas: The owner or lessee of shoreline property may define a swimming area adjacent to the property for personal use.  This is covered by Chapter 6110.1600.  Learn more about Swim Raft permits...

  • Water Events: A permit is needed whenever an event occurs on, in or upon the water. This would include events such as ice fishing contests, snowmobile races on the ice, summer fishing contests, triathlon races, etc. Learn more about Water Event permits...

  • How Much Do Water Permits Cost: Water Event and Buoy/Swim Raft permits are $26 per permit.  Please make checks payable to St. Louis County Sheriff's Office. Please click here for our Fee Schedule.


Air Boat Pontoon Boat Patrol Boat

Pontoon Boat

Pontoon BoatIn 2006 the Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa provided the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Volunteer Rescue Squad with a much needed piece of equipment.  The Band provided a new 20-foot Misty Harbor pontoon boat to use on water operations.

 “This boat is the ideal work platform for our underwater electronics”, said Captain Tom Crossmon of the Rescue Squad.  Recently the Squad has obtained an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV), and different types of sonar gear used to locate drowning victims or vehicles that have gone underwater.  “We are very thankful to the members of the Fond Du Lac Band and the Reservation Business Committee for this gift that will be an excellent asset for the Squad”, said Crossmon.

The pontoon provided is complete with 50hp four-stroke motor and trailer.  Police and marine radios will be added for operational use.   The boat will also be used by area dive teams in recovery and training operations.

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