A Guide for Buying and Managing Shoreland

Section 4: DNR Land Use Management Programs

What laws affect shoreland development and how do they work?

Shoreland Management, Floodplain Management, and Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers are all "land use" or "zoning" programs. They require that the Commissioner of Natural Resources prepare minimum statewide development standards for shoreland, floodplain, and wild and scenic river areas. Local units of government then adopt these or stricter standards in the form of local zoning or land use ordinances. Management of the Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area Program was transferred to the DNR in 1995. Minimum standards are required to be followed by all governmental units in the Corridor when adopting plans and ordinances.

Why are there separate laws and programs, and how do they work?

Our lakes and rivers are unique and offer a wide variety of opportunities and challenges which these programs address.

  • The Shoreland Management Program provides orderly development of the shoreland and protects lakes and rivers from pollution by individual sewage treatment systems and other non-point sources. The intent of this program is to encourage development of our shorelands in such a way that the water quality is enhanced and the scenic resources are preserved.
  • The Floodplain Management Program is intended to minimize the threat to life and property resulting from flooding. This program restricts development in floodplains by preventing structures from being built at too low an elevation in areas that have a high risk of flooding. It also controls encroachment so that the floodplain's capacity to hold flood water will not be reduced, causing flooding to properly located
  • The Wild and Scenic Rivers Program is a program to preserve and protect rivers with outstanding scenic, recreational, natural, historical, and scientific values. The program is designed to prevent damage to these exceptional rivers caused by intensive development and recreational overuse.
  • The Mississippi River Critical Area Program was adopted to identify areas of critical concern and assist local units of government for wise use of these areas. The Mississippi River and its adjacent Corridor within the seven-county metropolitan area was designated a Critical Area in 1976 to protect and preserve a unique and valuable resource, as well as prevent and mitigate irreversible damage.