Lake Habitat

Lake Plant Survey Manual

The Lake Plant Survey Manual provides survey protocols for lake and lakeshore plant data collection so that appropriate data can be collected in an objective, unbiased, and commonly repeatable manner. Survey methods in this manual are science-based and are designed to identify and characterize in-lake and lakeshore habitat. This manual was developed by MNDNR staff in the Division of Ecological and Water Resources (EWR) Lakes Program, in consultation with the MNDNR Fisheries Lake Survey Program Committee. The manual was designed primarily for use by EWR's Lakes Program and the Fisheries Section. These protocols may also be used by other MNDNR Programs as well as other agencies and consultants.

Sensitive Lakeshore Identification

Project summary

This was a cooperative project between Minnesota Counties, non-profit organizations, and the Minnesota DNR. The goal of the project was to identify areas along lakeshores that provide unique or critical ecological habitat and to use multiple approaches to protect those identified lakeshores.

The DNR established objective, science-based criteria to identify sensitive shoreland parcels on large lakes that counties have identified as high priority sites (e.g., Ten Mile, Woman, Leech, and Pelican lakes). These lakes represent some of Minnesota's largest and most valuable waters. These lakes also contain extensive areas of undeveloped shoreland that would benefit from additional protection.

Local and state resource managers will be able to use the information provided by the Sensitive Lakeshore Identification project to help ensure that sensitive habitats are receiving sufficient protection. Local governments can use Minnesota's Alternative Shoreland Management Standards tools to protect water quality. One of the key tools is a process that allows local governments to increase the protection of ecologically sensitive shoreland. Areas that are identified as sensitive, such as sections of shoreline, whole bays, or whole lakes, can be put into a more protective zoning category (e.g., local governments can reclassify to a natural environment class or district).

In addition, landowners that have property on sensitive lakes or within sensitive lakeshore areas may be willing to donate permanent conservation easements. Using conservation easements is a long-term strategy to protect critical lands and aquatic habitats, recreational opportunities, and water quality. This voluntary approach is more flexible and can be applied to smaller areas (e.g., shoreland parcels with frontage of hundreds to thousands of feet).

Background information

Sensitive areas are places that provide unique or critical ecological habitat. These areas along the shore or in near-shore areas of the lake are crucial to the health and well-being of fish, wildlife, and native plants. Many fish and wildlife species, including many species of greatest conservation need, are highly dependent on naturally vegetated shorelines as habitat for feeding, resting, and mating and juvenile life stages. Development and land alteration in the immediate shoreland and on the shoreline may have significant negative impacts on these species.


Funding for this effort was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR), by the Outdoor Heritage Fund as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, and by the State Wildlife Grants program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Sensitive Lakeshore Maps Using Rapid Assessment Model


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