Shoreland Regulations

Minnesota's Shoreland Management Program guides land development along Minnesota’s lakes and rivers to protect their ecological, recreational, and economic values. The state shoreland rules (MR 6120.2500 - 6120.3900 opens in a new browser tab ) establish minimum standards to protect habitat and water quality and preserve property values. These standards are implemented through local shoreland ordinances. Only land within shoreland is regulated as shoreland. For parcels that straddle shoreland boundaries, only that portion within shoreland is regulated as shoreland.

Anyone who owns land along a lake or river should contact their local county, city, or township with questions about the standards and permit requirements that apply to their property.

The DNR’s role is to ensure that local shoreland ordinances comply with the state shoreland rules and to provide technical assistance and oversight to these local governments.

Local Government Administrative Resources

Model Shoreland Ordinance

Updated April 28, 2022, the model serves as a tool for local governments to develop new or amend existing shoreland ordinances.

Innovative Higher Standards

Many counties have adopted innovative and even higher standards in their zoning ordinances. The DNR periodically updates an inventory of county and city shoreland regulations that provide better resource protection and administrative practices than the shoreland rules.

Shoreland Ordinance Review and Approval

The DNR must review and approve all local shoreland ordinances and amendments.

Shoreland Reclassifications

Waterbody classifications used in local ordinances may only be changed with a DNR-approved request from local governments.

Variances in Shoreland, Floodplains and other DNR-protected Waterways

The DNR, League of Minnesota Cities and the Minnesota Association of County Planning and Zoning Administrators developed resources for local governments to promote variance decisions that protect environmental resources, property values, and keep communities out of legal trouble.

Bluff and Slope Protections

Resources are available for development standards on or near bluffs and mitigation strategies to help local governments identify bluffs meeting the shoreland definition in their communities.

Mandatory Environmental Review in Shoreland

Mandatory environmental review is required for some projects in shoreland. The goal of environmental review is to obtain useful information about potential environmental effects of proposed projects and how they can be avoided or mitigated during zoning and building permit review and approvals. Because of the sensitive nature and ecological value of shoreland, the thresholds for development in shoreland are lower than in nonshoreland areas.

Instructions for developing Environmental Review Assessments is available through the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board.

Additional Resources

Fact Sheets


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