Did you know that your swim raft or platform needs a permit to be in the water? This is a common question that we get during the summer months. This month we will discuss raft permits, along with on the water special event and tournament permits and how to obtain them from the Cass County Sheriff's Office.

DNR regulations allow structures, such as swimming rafts, boat lifts, slalom courses, ski jumps, etc, which do not extend from the shore, cannot be placed in the water between sunset and sunrise without first obtaining a permit from the County Sheriff.

MN State Statute 6110.1800 reads: PLACEMENT OF TEMPORARY STRUCTURES AND BUOYS IN THE WATERS OF THE STATE. No person shall leave any temporary structure not extending from shore, or any buoy or sign in the waters of this state between the hours of sunset and sunrise without first obtaining a permit in writing therefor from the sheriff of the county. Mooring buoys must be placed as provided in part 6110.1500, subpart 4. Swimming area markers must be placed as provided in part 6110.1600.

Permit for temporary structure or buoy. The sheriff of any county may issue a permit for the placement of any such structure or buoy whenever, in the sheriff's opinion, the structure or buoy will not constitute an undue hazard to or illegal obstruction of navigation.

Additional rules about rafts and other structures are:

  • The permit number must be painted on the raft.
  • The structure must have a light visible in all directions or be reflectorized, so as to reflect light in all directions.
  • Placement of the structure may be altered at the direction of the sheriff should it interfere with navigation.

Permits are available from the sheriff's office in a variety of ways. Go to www.casssheriff.com and click on "Forms and Permits" in the recreation (boat and water) section. Permits are available in a downloadable pdf format that can be filled in, printed and mailed to our office. They can be filled out in person in our lobby or we can mail you a permit.

A raft permit is valid for two years and costs $10, which can be paid by check or cash and included with your permit application. We will receive your application and mail you a permit, which will have the permit number on it and that you can keep in your file. We don't automatically mail a renewal; you must renew your permit when it expires by completing a new application and mailing it to our office with payment.

The Cass County Sheriff's Office also issues event permits. A request to hold a snowmobile race, radar run, or other timed or speed event, including fishing tournaments on water, ice or land in Cass County can be found on our website as well.

If you plan to hold an event or exhibition on a Cass County lake or river, you must complete an event permit. Examples of event permit include fishing tournaments, boat races and ski shows.

All water exhibition applicants must ensure the following:

  • Insurance: The applicant must obtain a non-cancelable liability insurance policy in the amount of $300,000/$1,000,000 naming the county and any municipality where the event is to be held as additional insured for the term of the event permit. All insurance information must be included with the application and fee at least two (2) weeks prior to the event. Any and all permits required from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources must be attached with the permit application prior to approval.
  • Clean-up: The race/event site should be cleaned up to pre-event conditions within 24 hours after the event. All debris must be removed from the site. Failure to follow all conditions may result in the denial of future permits or citations being issued for non-compliance.
  • Event cancellation: The Cass County Sheriff's Office reserves the right to cancel any event/race at any time as a result of weather or ice conditions to ensure the public safety.
  • Applications: All applications must be received by the Cass County Sheriff's Office at least two weeks prior to the scheduled event. The permit must be with the event director/coordinator or at the main staging area. All applications must include the permit fee for each event scheduled. Each event fee is $20 per permit.

If you have any questions about permits or applications required, please contact our recreation office at 218-547-7329 or email Lt Brad Rittgers at brad.rittgers@co.cass.mn.us.

If you have specific questions that you would like answered in this column or in person, please feel free to contact me anytime using one of the following methods: by email at tom.burch@co.cass.mn.us; by phone at 218-547-1424 or 800-450-2677; or by mail or in person

At the Cass County Sheriff's Office, 303 Minnesota Ave. W, P.O. Box 1119, Walker, MN, 56484.