Shoreland Management Lake Classifications

Minnesota's lakes range from the sterile, rock basin lakes of the Arrowhead region to the naturally fertile, shallow lakes of the southwest prairie region. These different types of lakes require different shoreland development standards. A classification system was developed so that the appropriate development standards could be applied. This classification system has been in effect since the early 1970's when the shoreland management program was originally established. It includes public waters basins (lakes) down to 25 acres in size in unincorporated areas and ten acres in size in incorporated areas that have DNR-approved shoreland ordinances. Lakes are divided into the following classes based on a combination of factors:

  • Natural Environment Lakes usually have less than 150 total acres, less than 60 acres per mile of shoreline, and less than three dwellings per mile of shoreline. They may have some winter kill of fish; may have shallow, swampy shoreline; and are less than 15 feet deep.
  • Recreational Development Lakes usually have between 60 and 225 acres of water per mile of shoreline, between 3 and 25 dwellings per mile of shoreline, and are more than 15 feet deep.
  • General Development Lakes usually have more than 225 acres of water per mile of shoreline and 25 dwellings per mile of shoreline, and are more than 15 feet deep.


Lake Shoreland Classifications List by County pdf (6.5 Mb)


To obtain more lake shoreland classification information, contact the DNR area hydrologist pdf or the local unit of government.