Shoreland Management Lake, River and Stream Classifications

State shoreland regulations only apply to public waters in Minnesota that are assigned a shoreland classification.

If you are uncertain about the classification of a lake or river and the dimensional standards that apply, contact your local planning and zoning office.


Lake Classifications

Shoreland classifications include public water basins (lakes) down to 25 acres in size in unincorporated areas and ten acres in size in incorporated areas that have DNR-approved shoreland ordinances.

Natural Environment Lakes

Natural Environment Lakes usually have less than 150 total acres, less than 60 acres per mile of shoreline, and less than three dwellings per mile of shoreline. They may have some winter kill of fish; may have shallow, swampy shoreline; and are less than 15 feet deep.

Recreational Development Lakes

Recreational Development Lakes usually have between 60 and 225 acres of water per mile of shoreline, between 3 and 25 dwellings per mile of shoreline, and are more than 15 feet deep.

General Development Lakes

General Development Lakes usually have more than 225 acres of water per mile of shoreline and 25 dwellings per mile of shoreline, and are more than 15 feet deep.


Stream and River Classifications

The River Shoreland Classification Map identifies all state classified streams and rivers with a shoreland classification. Streams and rivers listed in the Protected Waters Inventory and mapped on the Protected Waters maps automatically receive a default classification of Tributary. Check you local shoreland ordinance for details regarding your river's classification.

Remote River Segments

Remote river segments are primarily located in roadless, forested, sparsely-populated areas of the northeastern part of the state.

Forested River Segments

Forested river segments are located in forested, sparsely to moderately populated areas with some roads in the north-central part of the state.

Transition River Segments

Transition river segments commonly forested in their riparian areas and border mixtures of cultivated ground, pasture, and forest stands.

Agricultural River Segments

Agricultural river segments are located in well-roaded, intensively cultivated areas of the western and southern regions of the state.

Urban River Segments

Urban river segments are located within or adjacent to major cities throughout the state.

Tributary River Segments

Tributary river segments consist of watercourses mapped in the Protected Waters Inventory that have not been assigned a shoreland classification. These segments have a wide variety of existing land and recreational use characteristics.



Shoreland classifications may only change if a city or county officially requests a reclassification. The DNR must approve the reclassification. Minnesota Administrative Rules 6120.3000 (Shoreland Management Classification System) outlines this process.