Skip to Main navigation Skip to Left navigation Skip to Main content Skip to Footer

University of Minnesota Extension

Extension is almost done building a new website! Please take a sneak peek or read about our redesign process.

Extension > Environment > Water Resources > Property owners > Shoreland maintenance > Understanding shoreland BMPs

Print Icon Email Icon Share Icon

Understanding shoreland BMPs

Use of the fact sheets

These fact sheets may be distributed to shoreland property owners, lake association members, local elected officials, technical staff, and other decision makers. Individual fact sheets may be copied and handed out at meetings or information booths. Fact sheets may be reproduced as pages in newsletters or included with mailings such as utility bills or tax statements. See reverse side for additional guidelines on use.

On the inside front cover of the folder is a property management section. Locate the appropriate information for your property and buildings and record it in the folder.

Most of the fact sheets outline simple actions to implement on your shoreland property or household to minimize adverse impacts on water quality. For help in getting started on more technical projects, fact sheet #16 Accessing Information to Protect Water Quality gives additional information about the agencies and organizations that can provide assistance. Shoreland Stewardship Scorecard, fact sheet #17, lets you measure your success in protecting water resources.


Everyone lives in the watershed of some lake or river, even if they don't own property directly on the waterfront. People who own shoreland property must remember that Minnesota's lakes and streams are a public resource; they have the right and responsibility to preserve those waters for present and future generations to enjoy.

Helpful definitions

beach sand blanket--Sand that is added to form a beach; it should not be added where it would destroy fish or wildlife habitat, wild rice or /Other protected vegetation; size restrictions do apply; contact the DNR Area Hydrologist for specifics.

erosion--The process by which soil or rock material is worn down and carried away by wind or water; erosion is increased when vegetation is removed and soil is left exposed.

eutrophic--Water very high in nutrients, generally referring to lakes; lakes commonly experience algal blooms and excessive weed growth.

filter strip--Vegetated area adjacent to shoreline that helps prevent contaminants from reaching the water; preferably native vegetation.

infiltration--Water seeping into the ground through pores in soil, sand, or gravel or through cracks in bedrock; infiltration can help minimize erosion.

ordinary high water level (OHWL)--Highest water level that a lake has maintained for enough time to leave evidence on the landscape; commonly where natural vegetation changes from aquatic to upland species; for streams, the OHWL is generally the top of the bank of the channel.

riparian zone--Land area adjacent to a stream or lakeshore that may experience periodic flooding.

runoff--Water flowing over the surface of land or soil; runoff can cause erosion and is increased when surfaces are paved or covered with roofs, patios, or decks.

setback--The required distance between the shoreline and property development; different distances apply for dwellings, septic systems, outbuildings, and wells; required setbacks vary for different water bodies; county and municipal ordinances may vary.

shore impact zone--Land area adjacent to a shoreline in which certain regulations apply; some activities are prohibited

shoreland regulations--DNR regulations determining the type and extent of development allowed near shorelines; counties or municipalities may adopt more restrictive ordinances.

topography--Shape or contour of the land; topography and slope influence how property should be developed; construction or /Other activity on steep slopes increases runoff and erosion.

water bar--A small, raised ridge on the road surface used to deflect water flow into a ditch; designed to reduce erosion by minimizing flow down the road.

watershed--The drainage basin or area in which surface water drains toward a lake or stream; ground water flow may or may not parallel surface topography.

For more information

County offices:

Regional offices of MN State agencies:

Federal agencies:

Shoreland Best Management Practices

Reviewed 2016

  • © Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy