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Shoreline Management

Property owners sometimes wish to make alterations to the shoreline of a public water body. Most of these projects are regulated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). However, if certain conditions are met, some minimal impact projects can proceed without a permit from the DNR. Keep in mind that project permits may be required from local government units and other agencies of the state or federal government.

Information sheets discussing common shoreline alteration projects have been prepared and are available from the Minnesota DNR website:

Aquatic Plants

A DNR aquatic plant management permit may be required to remove aquatic vegetation. However, no permit is required to remove debris below the ordinary high water level, such as trees, logs, stumps and trash as long as the original alignment, slope or cross section of a lake, wetland, or streambed is not altered, and the removed debris must be placed outside of public waters and public waters wetlands which may require local government approval.

Trees and Brush

Your property may be within the boundaries of one or more land use management districts and subject to vegetative cutting or removal requirements. For lands within a Shoreland Management District, no permit is required for limited clearing of trees and shrubs (10 to 20 percent) and cutting, pruning, and trimming of trees to accommodate the placement of stairways, paths, and water accesses and to provide a view to the water from the principal dwelling.

Shoreline Health & Restoration

Shorelands are naturally full of a rich diversity of life: plants, animals, and microorganisms, including humans. As we understand more about the structure and function of shoreland, we also become aware of the importance of our role in keeping these systems healthy. Our efforts can lead to the restoration of a quality outdoor resource, and a community full of life and beauty.

The problem

Traditional lawns, while not particularly harmful, have few of the benefits of a more natural shoreline. Lawns are shallow rooted, provide little wildlife habitat, need frequent maintenance and are often over-fertilized. These factors can lead to problems on your lake such as:

  • Shoreline erosion and lake sedimentation
  • Algal blooms and excessive aquatic plant growth
  • Loss of wildlife habitat, but an increase in nuisance animals
  • Loss of leisure time

The buffer zone solution

Creation of a buffer zone is the essence of the lakescaping concept. It is an opportunity to balance our needs and priorities with the needs and priorities of those with whom we share life at the edge of the water.

Lakescaping and shoreland restoration can return many desirable features to your shoreline:

  • Provide habitat for a wide variety of wildlife
  • Filter out pollutants and runoff that degrade water quality
  • Prevent shoreline erosion by absorbing wave action
  • Enjoy abundant nature: flowers, shrubs, trees, aquatic plants, fish, insects, birds
  • More leisure time to relax and enjoy the nature of life at the lakeshore

Restoring the balance of nature enhances the aesthetic quality and recreational opportunities we appreciate. It will also balance your lifestyle with the needs of the natural communities of plants and animals that also call the shoreland home.

To learn more about lakescaping and shoreland restoration check out these resources:

Additional information can be found at the Minnesota DNR;