The Minnesota DNR, Division of Lands & Minerals is responsible for granting permission to companies that propose to cross state land or public waters with utility infrastructure projects. The permission is in the form of a utility crossing license. Utility licenses are granted for a term of 25 or 50 years, and may be renewed when they expire. Applicants apply for a license by submitting an application. Utility licenses are generally required for the installation of electrical, pipeline, and communication projects.
What utilities are covered by a crossing license?
Do I need a license to install a utility line across state land or public water?
Yes, a license must be obtained from the DNR for the passage of any utility over, under, or across any state land or public water.
How can I find out if my project will cross state land?
A utility license is required to cross state land managed by the Department of Natural Resources. If your project crosses state land managed by another agency (MnDOT, for example), you must contact them for crossing permission. If your project crosses tax forfeited land managed by a county, you must contact the county. Plat books and county websites are good resources for checking land ownership.
To confirm that your project crosses state land managed by DNR, consult the DNR website for interactive maps.
ArcGIS shapefiles depicting state land administered by DNR are also available for downloading at the DNR's Data Deli.
What is a public water and how can I find out if my project will cross one?
Public waters are any water bodies (lakes, rivers, and some wetlands) identified as such on the Protected Waters and Wetlands Maps (PWI). These maps were produced on a county-by-county basis and are available for download. For some counties, GIS-based PWI maps in electronic format are available.
ArcGIS shapefiles of basins and watercourses used to construct the GIS-based PWI maps are available from the DNR Data Deli.
To confirm if your project crosses a public water, locate your crossing on a PWI map.
What is the process for requesting a utility crossing license?
What are the license fees?
The water crossing application fee is $2,250 and the land crossing application fee is $3,500. The application fee must be included with the application. For each crossing, there is a one-time crossing fee which is either based on a fee table or the appraised value of the land. The applicant can use the fee tables found in Minnesota Rules, Chapter 6135, pp 4-7 Minnesota Rules, Chapter 6135 to estimate the fee for a particular crossing. Timber damages may apply and a monitoring fee may also be assessed to ensure proper construction.
New fee exemptions
For applications where some crossings are on existing public road right-of-way, the application fee must be submitted with the application. The license fee for crossings on existing public road right-of-way will be exempted and the license fee for the remaining crossings will be billed.
License payments should not be calculated and submitted with the license application. The only payment submitted with an application should be the application fee, if applicable. The DNR will calculate the correct fee and bill the applicant at the time the license is ready to be issued.
Update on New Law
On July 1, 2014, a new law takes effect that will exempt application and license fees on applications where all the proposed crossings are on an existing public road right-of-way.
The new law is found in Minnesota Statutes, section 84.415, subdivision. 7:
"A utility license for crossing public lands or public waters is exempt from all fees specified in this section and in rules adopted under this section when the utility crossing is on an existing right-of-way of a public road."
This file contains the application form and instructions for a license to cross public lands and waters. The instructions begin on page 4. Land and water crossings cannot be combined on the same application.
Applicants can complete the application by using one of these methods:
Send the completed form along with the required attachments and applicable fees to the DNR office listed in the instructions.
Minnesota Rules (Chapter 6135) provides additional direction for the installation of utilities across public lands and waters as required under Minnesota Statute 84.415. All installations of utilities must comply with the requirements listed in these Rules.