Boat & Water Safety


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

The role of the Boat and Water Safety Division is to:

  • 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
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..

Boat & Water Enforcement, Training & 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


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.

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.

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.
See our Fee Schedule.

Air Boat

In 2011 the St. Louis County Board approved the purchase of a $62,500 air boat from Lake Assault Boat Works in Superior, WI.

The airboat is powered by an aircraft-like propeller and is able to move on top of ice, ice chunks, and shallow water. This boat will provide four-season versatility and aid in search and recovery efforts all year.

This 19-foot boat will replace two smaller, aging hovercraft the Volunteer Rescue Squad has used for many years. The hovercraft had high operation and maintenance costs and broke down often.

Pontoon Boat

In 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.

Patrol Boat

In October 2010 the Sheriff's Office christened a $98,000 search and rescue boat. This boat will be used to patrol Lake Superior, the Twin Ports harbor, and inland lakes. The 23-foot boat was purchased in 2009 from Lake Assault.


In emergency or to file a report, call 911.

Duluth Sheriff's Office

Hibbing Sheriff's Office

Virginia Sheriff's Office

St. Louis County Jail

All contacts