A Guide for Buying and Managing Shoreland

Section 2: The Importance of Shoreland Management

Shoreland management is important. The consequences of uncontrolled and unplanned development can be disastrous to our land and water resources. Overbuilt and poorly designed shoreland areas degrade the value of the entire water body. Increasing demand for shoreline building sites has led to skyrocketing land costs. Without controls, land with water frontage tends to be divided into smaller parcels. Scattered cottages, homes, and resorts merge to form a continuous ribbon of buildings and structures along shores of lakes and rivers, resulting in the destruction of natural vegetation and scenic beauty. A first row of crowded structures may be followed by a second and third until the entire watershed is overbuilt. Marginal lands with high water tables, severe flooding hazards or steep slopes fall under increasing development pressure after suitable lands are taken.

The consequences of overdevelopment are increased risks of flooding, pollution and scenic degradation. Nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous, other pollutants, and improperly designed sewage treatment systems can contaminate wells and surface waters. Development in or near floodplains can reduce the natural storage capacity of the watershed, causing increased flooding threats to life and property.

Degraded property values, polluted lakes and wells, flood damages, and increased public service costs result when short-sighted thinking places immediate profits above long-term impacts and goals.

The Minnesota Legislature has long recognized the important value of the state's water resources and has taken action to preserve and protect these waters and their adjacent lands. In 1969, it enacted the Shoreland and Flood Plain Management Acts, and in 1973, the Minnesota Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. These statutes enabled the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to establish standards and criteria that are periodically reviewed and amended. On July 3, 1989, the revised statewide standards for shoreland management were adopted. Check the revised standards offered by the Minnesota State Legislature - Office of the Revisor of Statutes. Other programs such as Local Water Planning and the Pollution Control Agency's Clean Water Partnership also help to address the challenge of watershed management at the local government level.