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 ) establish minimum standards to protect habitat and water quality and preserve property values. These standards are implemented through local shoreland ordinances.
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 January 2017, 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.
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.
Model Buffer Language and Guidance
The DNR and the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) have developed model ordinance language and guidance for implementing the buffer law (MS 103F.48 ). Counties electing jurisdiction to enforce this law have a selection of implementation options and model language that is simple, consistent, and complies with state law on buffers, shorelands, and public ditches:
- BWSR and DNR Guidance for Counties on Buffer-Related Ordinances
- BWSR Model Buffer Ordinance
- DNR Guidance and Model Language for Amending Shoreland Ordinances for Consistency with the Buffer Law
- DNR Buffer Mapping Project
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.
- Mandatory Environmental Review for Shoreland Development where the Local Government is the Responsible Government Unit (RGU)
Instructions for developing Environmental Review Assessments is available through the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board.
- Statement of Need and Reasonableness (SONAR) for the State Shoreland Rules
- DNR Area Hydrologists
- County-by-county water-related permit contacts
- County Shoreland Activities Summary
- Shoreland Stewardship and Tools for Landowners
- Do I need a permit?
- Residential PUDs - Determining Allowable Density
- Managing Nonconforming Lots in Shoreland
- Intralake Zoning for Sensitive Lakeshores
- Designing Plats to Fit the Environment