Well-designed and managed public water accesses (PWAs) can maintain and even improve water quality by restoring shoreline buffers and alleviating storm water runoff.
PWAs provide an opportunity for users to interact with the natural riparian environment during their recreational pursuits. Many PWAs receive high use, and care must be taken in their design, construction, and maintenance to sustain the health of the natural resources and to provide quality experiences in the future. The DNR and local units of government have the responsibility to demonstrate exemplary development and management practices that will improve or maintain natural resources health and provide access to public waters of the state for recreational pursuits.
This guide describes sound practices based on the most current information, and will be updated as new methods become available. It is meant to assist with site-level development and management that will ultimately enhance the larger landscape. This guide should not be considered a comprehensive design tool. It will be especially helpful to resource managers in becoming familiar with sound design options. Engineers and ecological restoration professionals should be consulted when substantial site modifications are warranted.
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The following standards and practices should be applied to all future PWA development and management:
These sites can be improved by regional field staff taking the following actions:
When considering projects in this category, DNR Parks and Trails and local units of government should explore possible partnerships with local soil and water conservation districts staff and/or Aquatic Habitat Restoration Grant Program and with Conservation Corps Minnesota. Grants may be available through the first two organizations as they have similar goals to restore and maintain healthy water resources in their respective areas. Natural resources specialist services should be available to help assess shorelines.
These sites will be redesigned by an engineer. Design should be guided by the following actions:
Before acquiring a site, careful consideration should be given to the feasibility of developing an access that can fully implement best management practices and still serve the public good. New sites should be exemplary in demonstrating a state-of-the-art facility.
These sites will be designed by an engineer. The design should be guided by the following actions:
The emphasis today is on Low Impact Development (LID): keeping the raindrop where it falls and filtering out harmful substances. These practices require replacing traditional engineering with design that disconnects impervious surfaces and disperses runoff into several small catchment areas using innovative site-specific solutions that mimic each site’s natural hydrology. This is especially important for areas closely connected to fresh water.
Ecologically intact shorelines are essential for a healthy lake or river. State and local units of government have the responsibility to preserve, restore, and maintain the natural attributes of riparian areas today and for the future. PWA sites must demonstrate leadership in preserving, restoring, and maintaining a healthy buffer zone to assure that erosion and polluted runoff from the upland does not enter the water body.
Well maintained aquatic, transitional, and upland buffer zones serve to:
For more information: Restore Your Shore
The 2013 Legislature directed the Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources to "utilize applicable design standards and best management practices when designing and constructing new public water access sites and renovating existing sites. The Commissioner shall make the design standards and best management practices available on the Department of Natural Resources website and notify Local Units of Government of the standards and practices."
The design standards and best management practices were created by a dedicated team of professionals. A special thanks to:
For more information, please contact the
Clean Water Funds were used to develop these design standards and best management practices. The funds are part of the Legacy amendment and may only be spent to protect, enhance, and restore water quality in lakes, rivers and streams.