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The history and future of Minnesota’s shoreland management

August 18, 2008

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Through a series of statewide public meetings, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reviewing Minnesota’s shoreland development standards to determine whether they need to be updated to provide better guidance to local governments.

“The goal of the state’s minimum shoreland development standards is to help guide the use and wise development of Minnesota’s shorelands,” said Peder Otterson, leader of the DNR shoreland program. “These guidelines currently include minimum lot size, minimum water frontage, building setbacks, and subdivision and planned unit development regulations.”

The Minnesota Legislature directed the DNR to commence rulemaking to update the statewide minimum shoreland development standards.

Local governments (counties, cities, towns) are responsible for the implementation, administration, and enforcement of shoreland zoning ordinances that meet or exceed the state’s standards.

These local ordinances affect shoreland property owners and the use and development of shoreland areas.

The DNR is conducting the shoreland rule review using a process that is fair and open, said Otterson.

“The process helps the department and its stakeholders think about principles of good shoreland development.

The goal is to craft standards that reflect citizen input, are flexible and adaptable to local issues and needs, that reflect key resource values, and are fact-based.”

• History of shoreland development in Minnesota

How did Minnesota reach the point of needing to improve shoreland management?

During the 1960s and 1970s, a booming economy gave many Minnesotans more money and free time to invest in outdoor recreation.

Better roads, more campgrounds, and improved facilities contributed to make a trip to the lake an enjoyable experience.

Seasonal cabins began popping up on the more accessible lakes. The legislature commissioned the University of Minnesota to conduct an inventory of lakeshore development.

The study found that between 1954 and 1967 there was a 90-percent increase in the number of houses (seasonal and permanent) on lakes that were 150 acres or larger. This totaled some 63,000 structures.

As lakes became more developed, Minnesotans recognized that both the quality of their experience and the lakes themselves were beginning to suffer.

Responding to this concern, the Legislature enacted the Shoreland Management Act in 1969.

This has provided the statewide template for all later shoreland development.

The Shoreland Management Act established the “shoreland district” and directed the DNR to develop standards and criteria for the use, subdivision, and development of shorelands.

Many counties, the Shoreland Management Act marked their entry to planning and zoning.

• The planning process begins

By 1973, most of Minnesota’s counties had adopted shoreland management controls.

For counties, the “shoreland district” label applies to all public waters basins 25 acres or larger.

It includes all land within 1,000 feet of a lake’s ordinary high-water level (OHWL).

The OHWL also marks the point for determining setbacks and lot sizes and sets the landward limit where permits may be required from DNR Waters.

On rivers and streams having a drainage area of two square miles or greater, the shoreland district extends 300 feet from the OHWL, which is usually the top of the streambank.

The shoreland district can expand beyond 300 feet when it is part of a designated floodplain.

The DNR established lake and river classifications based on vulnerability to development.

Three lake and six river classifications help to determine the standards for development within the shoreland district.

Public waters more susceptible to the consequences of development received the higher development standards.

In 1973, the Legislature amended the Shoreland Management Act to include municipalities.

Within cities, the shoreland district can include basins as small as 10 acres.

Municipal shoreland management standards were established in 1976, and the DNR began to identify and notify cities on the need to adopt the standards into their local zoning ordinances.

In 1983, the Legislature approved the Shoreland Update Project to evaluate the effectiveness of shoreland management.

Surveys and reports confirmed the effectiveness of the original rules and suggested improvements to address emerging trends and issues. Shoreland development remained high from 1967 to 1982, increasing by about 74 percent.

A significant change was that construction of permanent homes outpaced seasonal dwellings during this period.

There was also a growing trend of converting seasonal cabins to permanent homes.

• Ongoing concerns, moving forward

A continuing concern of shoreland management has been the proper building and maintenance of septic systems.

The trend of increased permanent use lakehomes meant more people were using the lakeshore longer.

This, coupled with the trend of larger lakeshore developments, led to the development of the 1989 shoreland rules.

Humans and all living things are shaped by the water resources on which they depend.

However, we also shape these resources through our use of them. We are degrading these water resources, whether intended or not, and this has led to an increase in impaired waters.

In 2005, an advisory committee concluded that accompaniments to the 1989 shoreland management rules were warranted.

The alternative standards were developed as a set of voluntary provisions that local governments could use to address local conditions and concerns.

Following development of the alternative standards, the Legislature directed the DNR to commence the rulemaking process to update the shoreland development rules.

Details of this project can be found Shoreland Rule Update Web Page: http://:mndnr.gov/waters/shoreland.html and comments can be e-mailed to shorelandupdate@dnr.state.mn.us.

Prairie Archers to host dinner at the Dodge House

The Prairie Archers will be hosting a steak/shrimp dinner at the Dodge House in Lester Prairie Saturday, Aug. 23 from 5 to 8 p.m.

The steak and shrimp combo is $12; steak is $10; butterfly pork chop is $8; and six shrimp is $8.

The dinner includes baked potato, tossed salad, bread, dessert, coffee or milk, and a complimentary drink.

Reservations need to be called in before Friday, Aug. 22 at 6 p.m.

To reserve your spot, call the Dodge House at (320) 395-2877 or Jim Richardson at (320) 395-2721.

Ducks Unlimited banquet at the Blue Note Sept. 9

The Winsted chapter of Ducks Unlimited will be hosting its annual banquet Tuesday, Sept. 9 at the Blue Note in Winsted.

For additional information, contact Doug Chalupsky at (612) 770-7848 or Dale Gatz at (320) 485-4274.

Crow River Clean Up Day moves into fifth year
From the CROW

The fifth annual Crow River Clean Up Day is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 13 starting at 8 a.m.

The Crow River Clean Up Day began in 2002 and has continued to evolve over the past five years.

The clean up started in 2002 with citizens groups in Rockford, Hanover, and Delano.

The clean up activities inspired Diane Sander, Watershed Coordinator for the Crow River Organization of Water (CROW) to organize a regional event that would encompass the entire watershed.

In the past four years, the CROW, a 10 County Joint Powers Organization has helped coordinate over 1,040 volunteers to remove over 30 tons of trash from 118 miles of shoreline on the Crow River and its tributaries.

The Crow River Clean Up Day is a one day event. Clean up activities start at 8 a.m. and run until noon in each community.

Following the clean up, volunteers enjoy a sponor provided lunch while they admire their piles of trash.

Each volunteer receives a t-shirt commemoration the event as a thank you for all their hard work.

Planning for the Sept. 13 event had already begun. The CROW is assisting interested groups to organize clean ups across the watershed.

If you are interested in the clean up or otehr outreach programs, contact the CROW at (763) 628-1933, ext. 112.

Rain garden workshop in Glencoe Sept. 12
From the CROW

Here is your chance to learn from Extension experts about designing, building, and maintaining residential rain gardens.

The University of Minnesota Service along with the Crow River Organizations of Water will present a rain garden workshop Friday, Sept. 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the North Complex, McLeod County Office Building in Glencoe.

This class features a lecture section, which will provide in-depth information about rain garden design and construction, and a hands-on section where participants will have a chance to actually implement some of the skills and information learned in the classroom.

Other topics will include soil preparation, plant selection, and maintenance of rain gardens.

The cost for the class is $55. Lunch and materials are included in the fee. Class size is limited to 35.

Contact Jenny Gieseke with the CROW Joints Power Board at (507) 766-0173 if you have any questions, or how to register.

DNR’s state fair exhibit designed to educate, entertain
From the DNR

This year, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) continues its State Fair tradition of offering a wide range of free educational exhibits, presentations, and entertainment at its historic building and park site.

But unlike other years, the theme will be Celebrating the State’s Sesquicentennial.

The fair starts Thursday, Aug. 21 and continues through Monday, Sept. 1 in St. Paul.

“For many families, stopping by the DNR building and surrounding park area is a State Fair tradition,” explained Pat Delkoski, who coordinates the exhibit. “Whether it is to visit the fish pond, take in a live musical performance or to learn about our state’s natural resources over the past 150 years, there is always something for everyone. And this year there are several exciting new exhibits.”

• What’s New

- large banners with historic photos celebrating the state’s Sesquicentennial

- actual 24’ by 12’ state park camper cabin

- antique Model T fire truck from 1919 on display near the Wildfire Building/Fire Tower

- DNR Adopt-a-River Found-objects sculpture - this year it’s a giant “river ant,” complete with moving parts

- virtual bike tour display.

• State Fair Favorites

The DNR fire tower will be open for people who are interested in climbing the 84 steps to get a bird’s-eye view of the State Fairgrounds.

Another popular stop is a display offering property owners tips on how to keep their homes and cabins safe from wildfires.

Smokey Bear is celebrating 64 years of reminding children and their parents about the dangers of wildfires.

In conjunction with the Governor’s 10th annual Fire Prevention Day Friday, Aug. 22, the Division of Forestry will host a variety of special activities and events.

Smokey Bear makes daily appearances at DNR Park at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

The Division of Enforcement is sponsoring an interactive LaserShot shooting range for youth and adults.

The range gives participants a chance to test their skills at one of four shooting simulation stations.

It’s a free, safe, educational event that’s become a family favorite.

The laser range will be in the DNR theater and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Displays inside the main DNR building cover a wide range of natural resource topics: watersheds, aquatic invasive species, rocks and minerals, state lands, forests, trails and parks.

The Division of Minerals will feature a DVD on meteorites, Lake Superior agates, and volcanoes.

Inside the “DNR Wildlife…forever Wing,” fairgoers can learn about Minnesota species and wildlife habitat.

Special sound and lighting effects help create an experience of moving from day to night and through the four seasons, as visitors walk through the display.

And they can pick up free printed materials including hunting and trapping regulations and state park and recreation guides at the information booth on the north side of the building.

DNR staff will be available to answer questions from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

The DNR Nature Store will carry a wide range of merchandise including gift items, clothing, jewelry, educational toys, games, posters, calendars and books.

Many of the items are designed for outdoor enthusiasts and are available for sale only during the State Fair.

The Nature Store also sells hunting licenses for deer, small game and waterfowl, state park permits and the complete line of Public Recreation Information Maps.

Proceeds from the sale of merchandise help fund communication and education efforts at the State Fair.

• Entertainment line-up

A full program of educational and wildlife presentations along with music and theatrical performances are scheduled for the outdoor and garden stages and the fish pond area.

A variety of groups will offer demonstrations on the DNR big outdoor stage and the Garden Stage (on the west side of the building), including: the DNR’s MinnAqua Program; Midwest Fly Fishing Magazine; the Muskie Frontier; the Minnesota Bass Federation; the Minnesota Federation of Field Trial Clubs (pointing dogs); the Minnesota Duck and Goose Callers; the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota will; and Last Chance Forever – The Bird of Prey Conservancy of San Antonio, Texas (flying bird show).

Musical acts include the Brass Kings; Pete Neuman and the Real Deal; Red Rock Swing Band; Standing Room Only Dance Band; Roxxy Hall Band; Joe Meyer Band; Bitter Ridge Bend in the River Band; Singleton Street Bluegrass; and Ecuador Manta.

DNR adds three new fishing piers
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has three added three new fishing piers to Minnesota lakes this summer.

They are located on Lake Isabel in Dakota County, Lake Preston in Renville County and Clear Lake in LeSueur County.

The fishing pier grant program, created in 1984 by the State Legislature, has led to the installation of more than 300 fishing piers, platforms or shore fishing sites statewide.

“The purpose of the program is to improve fishing opportunities. We especially want to meet the needs of children, elderly, people with disabilities and those without a boat,” explained Nancy Stewart, fishing pier coordinator for the DNR.

In most cases, the DNR provides the fishing pier (built by MinnCor industries) while local governments provide the accessible walkway/path, accessible parking space and ongoing maintenance.

For example, a DNR cooperative agreement with the city of Hastings resulted in the construction of a new pier in Isabel Park at Lake Isabel in Dakota County.

Besides the accessible parking and pathway, the city provided an accessible ramp and gangway to the pier.

“People were fishing from the pier, and catching fish before installation was complete,” Stewart said.
The fishing pier grant program is quite popular and local governments have submitted 65 applications seeking funding.

There is not enough money to go around, Stewart added, so some communities have done fundraising to make their project a higher priority.

The Buffalo Lake Rod and Gun Club raised $10,000 for a new pier on Lake Preston in Renville County.

With even more donations promised after installation, they will have paid for 90 percent of the pier, which is located at the lake’s public water access.

A community can also come together to form partnerships on projects, like the Clear Lake pier project in LeSueur County.

The DNR installed the pier and the county will take care of the ongoing maintenance through a cooperative agreement.

The pier was funded by donations from the Waseca Hockey Association, the New Prague Sportsmen Club, the LeCenter Isaac Walton League and the Montgomery Sportsmen Club.

This pier is in Clear Lake County Park on the west shore, four miles north of LeCenter.

For more information on the grant program or to find a fishing pier, platform or developed shorefishing area, go to www.dnr.state.mn.us/fishing_piers/index.html.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: The DNR offers a variety of youth hunts from ducks and deer in the fall to turkeys in the spring.
Who is eligible to take part in these special hunts and how do they sign up?

A: The State Legislature authorized the DNR to conduct special youth-only hunts in 1997.

The primary goal of these special hunts is to provide safe, high quality, introductory hunting experiences for youth.

During all special hunts a non-hunting, adult parent or guardian must accompany the youth.

Annually we conduct special youth hunts for deer, turkeys and pheasants.

The hunts are for youth ages 12-17 years and require participants to have successfully completed Firearms Safety Training.

In addition to special youth hunts, we host a series of events designed to raise awareness of the need to get youth afield and reduce the barriers to doing so.

They include: Take a Kid Hunting Weekend, Youth Waterfowl Day, and Future Pheasant Hunters Weekend.

A final opportunity is the Northwest Minnesota special antlerless deer season.

This season takes place in late October and encompasses Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Pennington and Roseau counties. This hunt is for youth ages 12-14.

A non-hunting adult parent or guardian must accompany the youth hunter.

Additional information about special youth hunt regulations and license requirements as well as dates and locations can be found on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us/harr/youth/index/html.

Outdoor notes

• The 2008 mourning dove season opens Monday, Sept 1 and runs through Thursday, Oct. 30.

• The 2008 early Canada goose season opens Saturday, Sept. 6 and runs through Monday, Sept. 22.