The Shoreland Act resulted in statewide regulations that guide development of land along lakes and rivers through local zoning ordinances. The purposes was to minimize development impacts to water quality, habitat and lakeshore character. The regulations include standards for minimum lot size, structure and septic system setbacks from lakes and rivers, building height, and vegetation and land alteration. Prior to the Shoreland Act, land development around lakes and rivers was unregulated.
Shoreland Photo Contest
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Shoreland Management Act by checking out the shoreland photo contest winners.
The winning photos will also be displayed at the DNR building during the Minnesota State Fair. The shoreland photo contest deadline for submissions was August 5th.
Natural Shores = Healthy Shores
The decisions that property owners make have a direct impact on the health of lakes and rivers. The single most important decision is maintain and/or restore natural vegetation along your shoreline. Natural vegetation:
- Holds soil in place protecting shorelines from increasingly intensive rain events and rising water levels
- Slows runoff and stores moisture
- Filters out nutrients, which along with rising lake temperatures, accelerates algae blooms
- Provides habitat so species can survive in a changing climate
- Increases property values by keeping lakes clean
For ideas on how to maintain or restore, please see Lakescaping and shoreland restoration
Shoreland development, then and now
Good development standards are important now more than ever to address current trends.
Development Size and Scale
Small seasonal cabins under 1,000 square feet were common in the 1960s and 1970s.
Large homes (3,000 square feet or larger) became increasingly common starting in the late 1990s.
Vegetation and Landscaping
Most shoreland lots in the 1960s and 1970s featured natural vegetation and little hardcover.
Over time, more shoreland lots feature highly altered suburban-style landscaping. Natural vegetation is replaced with turf and hard cover.
Many homes and cabins were built on small lots close to the water in the 1960s. Most were small in scale and proportional to the small lot size.
Over time, the homes and cabins on these small lots have been replaced with much larger homes. This results in much higher levels of hard surface and stormwater runoff.
State and Local Governments
Partners in Shoreland Management
Under the Shoreland Management Act, the DNR establishes shoreland regulations. Counties and cities implement those regulations through local zoning. The day-to-day work of cities and counties guide shoreland property owners to make the best possible development decisions. It's a difficult job but their efforts protect shoreline resources for the benefit of all Minnesotans. Many counties are going over and beyond the minimum shoreland regulations, and have adopted higher standards in their zoning ordinances.
Making of Minnesota's 1969 Act and the Shoreland Program
Minnesotans came together in the 1960s to ensure that development protected natural lake and river shorelines that are central to our identify as Minnesotans and for future Minnesotans.