Knowing aquatic plant types is critical to get a permit

We often call aquatic plants "weeds" but they are a natural and essential part of our lakes. Aquatic plants provide benefits for fish, wildlife and you – no matter how you enjoy the Minnesota's beautiful lakes.

We encourage property owners to minimize the destruction of aquatic plants. Ask yourself: what's really needed to access your property and recreate? Some activity with low ecological impacts can be done without a permit depending on the the type of vegetation.

What kind of aquatic plants do you want to remove?

Illustration depicting emergent vegetation, floating-leaf vegetation and submergent vegetation

What you can't do

Composite image displaying activities that restrict or prevent aquatic plant growth.

  • Excavate the lake bottom for aquatic plant control.
  • Use hydraulic jets to control aquatic plants or remove muck.
  • Destroy or prevent the growth of aquatic plants by using lake bottom barriers.
  • Remove aquatic vegetation within posted fish-spawning areas.
  • Remove aquatic plants from an undeveloped shoreline.
  • Remove aquatic plants where they do not interfere with swimming, boating or other recreation.

 

Emergent vegetation

Any removal of emergent vegetation requires a permit; however, a permit of continuing duration to maintain a channel to open water may be obtained, under the following conditions:

  • The channel is no more than 15 feet wide
  • After the first year the channel is maintained mechanically (cutting or pulling)
  • The channel remains in the same location from year to year
  • These permits are not transferable

Apply for a permit

Emergent aquatic vegetation species



Image of emergent aquatic vegetation.



Floating-leaf vegetation

Diagram depicting the area and location of floating leaf vegetation that lakeshore property owners can clear without a permit.

You may mechanically maintain a 15-foot wide channel though floating-leaf vegetation extending to open water without a permit.

Any greater removal will require a permit.

Floating-leaf plants are rooted in the lake bottom, but their leaves and flowers float on the water surface. Water lilies are a well-known example. Floating leaf plants typically grow in protected areas where there is little wave action.



Submergent vegetation

Diagram depicting the area and location of submerged vegetation that lakeshore property owners can clear without a permit.

Lake shore property owners may cut or pull submerged vegetation to create or maintain an area adjacent to their property along with a navigation channel without a DNR permit provided:

  • The area is less than 2,500 square feet.
  • The area extends less than 50 feet along the shore or one-half the length of your shoreline, whichever is less.
  • The channel is 15 feet wide or less.
  • Plant removal does not significantly alter the lake bottom.
  • All plants are disposed of on land.

 

Any greater removal will require a permit.

Submerged plants have stems and leaves that grow entirely underwater, although some may also have floating leaves. Flowers and seeds on short stems that extend above the water may also be present. Submerged plants grow from near shore to the deepest part of the littoral zone and display a wide range of plant shapes. Depending on the species, they may form a low-growing "meadow" near the lake bottom, grow with lots of open space between plant stems, or form dense stands or surface mats.

 

What you can't do

Composite image displaying activities that restrict or prevent aquatic plant growth.

  • Excavate the lake bottom for aquatic plant control.
  • Use hydraulic jets to control aquatic plants or remove muck.
  • Destroy or prevent the growth of aquatic plants by using lake bottom barriers.
  • Remove aquatic vegetation within posted fish-spawning areas.
  • Remove aquatic plants from an undeveloped shoreline.
  • Remove aquatic plants where they do not interfere with swimming, boating or other recreation.