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Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program

Final Report:
Publications to Assist Property Owners in Protecting

Wetland & Shoreland Environments

Eric Stoller

St. Louis County Planning & Development Department

February 26, 2010

Project No.306-13-09

Contract No. B03567

This project was funded in part under the Coastal Zone Management Act, by NOAA’s
Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, in cooperation with Minnesota’s
Lake Superior Coastal Program.
INTRODUCTION
In 2007, the Lake Superior Costal Program awarded a grant to the Planning &
Development Department of St. Louis County, Minnesota (the department) to produce
shoreland and wetland guides. These guides will assist property owners and developers in
the Coastal Zone, as well as other areas, to make improvements to their property in ways
that protect these important environments.

The Wetland Guide is comprised of a series of guides for different wetland types and
complements an earlier publication prepared by the department. It provides detailed
information on identification of wetland types, agencies involved in wetland regulation
and protection, and strategies to avoid wetland impacts. The Shoreland Guide provides
information on the importance of the shore impact zone, rules and regulations that govern
development within that zone, and strategies to enhance riparian environments.

WORK COMPLETED
Wetland Guide: Research was conducted with partner agencies to determine the most
appropriate classification system to use in the guide. Once this was determined, an
outline was produced, text was developed, and images were created and assembled.
Drafts of the guide received extensive review from wetland specialists in the department
and in partnering agencies. A limited run of printed guides was produced and distribution
will begin shortly. The digital version of the guide will be distributed through the
department’s website and through partner agencies.

Shoreland Guide: This guide was more straightforward and its development was guided
largely through the department’s in-house expertise in shoreland development. The work
completed is similar to that for the Wetland Guide.

RESULTS
The project resulted in the production of Shoreland Guide and Wetland Guide that will
assist property owners and developers to make legal and environmentally responsible
improvements to their property. It is expected that as the guides are distributed and used,
property owners will become more knowledgeable about how to avoid negative impacts
to wetlands and shoreland areas. The guides will also provide contact information for
additional resources and technical assistance.

The process of producing the guides helped the department refine its approach to the
development of instructional videos and the production of those videos is underway.

PARNTERNSHIPS
None to report.

LEVERAGED DOLLARS
None to report.
CONCLUSIONS
Lessons Learned: Conducting the research to determine the proper wetland classification
system to use delayed the project timeline, but resulted in the guide being more accurate
and useful. It also led to the decision that separate guides for each of the six major
wetland types would better serve the intended audience. Another benefit is better
coordination with other wetland agencies.

Unexpected Challenges: The science of wetlands continues to evolve. To keep the guides
relevant, regular review and updates of current knowledge will be required. As the
Shoreland Guide was in development, the state’s rules that govern development in such
areas were being rewritten, and are not yet complete as of this report. The Shoreland
Guide incorporates information based on staff members’ best understanding of what the
new rules are likely to require. However, like the Wetland Guide, it will need to be
reviewed and updated periodically.

Newly Identified Needs: While the guides will do an excellent job of explaining complex
issues related to property development, we became aware of the need to provide
information in multiple formats. The increasing ease of producing and providing digital
video compelled the department to begin production of videos that explain and illustrate
some of the information provided in the guides.

Building on Our Success: Aggressive marketing and distribution of the guides will help
ensure their use and value to the intended audience. By completing and distributing the
video resource currently under development, the department will extend the reach of this
important information.

PERFORMANCE INDICATORS CHECKLIST


See attached document.

APPENDICES
Attached are copies of the materials produced through these grants. Electronic copies of
the documents were sent with the electronic copy of this report.
shoreland guide
F O R S T. LO U I S C O U N T Y, M N

A comprehensive property owner’s Guide

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ShOReLaNd gUIde
a comprehensive property owner’s guide

Planning and Development Department


St. Louis County
Minnesota
USA

This guide is intended to provide general guidance for developing shoreland property.
Each project may have special circumstances that require additional planning. Contact the
St. Louis County Planning and Development Department for more information.

Obtaining the guide:


Copies of this guide are available at no cost to all residents. Requests for large numbers of
guides should be directed to St. Louis County Planning and Development. Large requests
may be charged a minimal fee to cover printing and reproduction.

This project was funded in part by:


Coastal Zone Management Act

NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, in cooperation with


Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program.

Produced by:
St. Louis County Planning and Development Department
100 Missabe Building
227 West First Street
Duluth, MN 55802
(218) 725 - 5000
Toll Free Minnesota 1 - 800 - 450 - 9777
Revisions:
Revised 2 - 2010

St. Louis County, MN 2 Shoreland Guide

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TabLe OF CONTeNTS

INTROdUCTION
Overview of Shoreland Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 4 General Setbacks and Standards . . . . . . . . . . . page 17
Tips for using this Guide General Setbacks
Zoning Ordinance Road Setbacks
Comprehensive Land Use Plan Dimensional Standards

SUCCeSSFUL PaRCeL deveLOPMeNT dISTRICT ZONINg


Purchasing Shoreland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 5 Land Use Standard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 18
Things to Consider Lakeshore Commercial Overlay (LCO)
Checklist for Purchasing Shoreland Property Residential (RES)
Shoreland Benefits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 6 Land Use Terms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 19
Sustainable Ecosystems Land Use Standards
Limited Industrial Use (LIU)
Shoreland Protection. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 7 Forest Agricultural Management (FAM)
Protection Methods
Vegetative Removal Standards Sensitive (SENS)

Governmental Enforcement Programs Lake Superior Overlay (LSO)

Shoreland Mixed Use (SMU)

Identifying the Shoreland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 8


Shoreland Areas
Bluffs weTLaNdS
Setbacks and Impact Zones Characteristics and Impact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 21

Impact Sensitive Areas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 9 Sequencing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 22


Bluff Characteristics and Standards
Vegetative Buffer Classify and Identify . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 23
Floodplain Forests
Obtaining Further Information . . . . . . . . . . . . page 10 Seasonally Saturated Basins
Legal Information Open Waters
Splitting and Consolidating Parcels Open Coniferous Bog
Nonconforming Lots of Record
Other Shoreland Contacts Classify and Identify . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 24
Shrub Carr
Hardwood-Coniferous Swamp
ZONINg Wetland Plants
Jurisdiction and Zoning Districts . . . . . . . . . . . page 11

Lot Design and Landscaping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 12 STRUCTURe STaNdaRdS


Principal & Accessory Structures. . . . . . . . . . . . page 25
Building or Remodeling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 13 Structure Standards
Homes & Cabins
Roads & Land Alterations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 14 Decks & Platforms
Driveway access
Parking Accessory Structures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 26
Shoreland Alterations Garages & Pole Buildings
Bunkhouses
Obtaining Permits. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 15 Boat Houses
Contact Information Gazebos and Screen Houses
Permits Saunas
Land Use Permits
Storage & Fish Cleaning Buildings
Conditional Use Permits

Sewage Treatment Systems


Septics, Wells & Utilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 27
Utilities
Sewage Treatment Systems
Wells and Safe Water
Permit Sketches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 16 Other Utilities
Drawing Your Sketch
Sketch Examples

de Shoreland Guide 3 St. Louis County, MN

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INTROdUCTION
about the shoreland guide

KeYS TO SUCCeSSFUL
ShOReLaNd deveL-
OPMeNT:

• Follow the directions in


this guide and keep it for a
reference
• Keep good records of your
property, including extended
plans and ideas and refer
to them when you make
improvements or changes
• Know your property’s
boundaries and make sure to
maintain its markers
• Check to see if permits are
required before you start a gUIde OveRvIew
project This guide provides easy to understand informa­ The gOveRNINg PRINCIPLeS aNd dOCU-
• Know who administers your tion about sustainable shoreland practices which MeNTS
zoning improve management of St. Louis County’s lakes The St. Louis County Zoning Ordinance is a legal
• Know the zoning restrictions of and rivers. document adopted by the county within the regu­
the property, if they have been lations and standards set by the State of Minne­
updated, and if there are added whO IT IS deSIgNed FOR sota. The zoning ordinance divides the land into
restrictions to your lakeshore, This shoreland guide is designed to be used by St. land use zones and applies regulations for permit­
rivers, wetlands, or bluffs Louis County property owners, contractors and ted use of the land and the placement of all struc­
• Know your watershed and be professional associates as a reference to develop tures. The ordinance is intended to encourage the
aware of storm water runoff and maintain shoreland property. The Shoreland most appropriate use of land and to recognize and
on your property Guide offers an effective, low cost means to reach preserve the economic and environmental values
• Take an active part in your people who make the everyday decisions that im­ of all lands within the county.
community’s comprehensive pact our lakes and rivers.
land development and This guide is also directed toward shoreland stew­ The St. Louis County Comprehensive Land Use
planning ards who have an interest in county lakes and riv­ Plan pertains to the policies and interrelated plans
ers, including resource managers, educators, and for private and public land use, transportation,
volunteers. and community facilities.
The standards in this guide are in accordance with
the regulations in the St. Louis County Zoning Or­
dinance and Comprehensive Land Use Plan. These
regulations have been developed and revised by
government bodies to reduce negative impacts
on the environment while allowing for develop­
ment and economic growth.

St. Louis County, MN 4 Shoreland Guide

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SUCCeSSFUL PaRCeL deveLOPMeNT
purchasing shoreland

CheCk list for purChasing


undeveloped land:
ˆ Is your intended use permitted
in the land use district?
(land use descriptions can be
found on pages 18 - 20)
ˆ Do you know where the
property lines are? (See page
10 for further information)
ˆ Is the site compatible with
your intended use?
(Remember to check the avail­
ability of utilities, legal road
access, soil type, setbacks and
PURChaSINg ShOReLaNd zoning standards.)
The purchase and development of property is of­ LaNd SURFaCeS aNd eLevaTIONS: Be aware of ˆ Are there activities present or
ten one of the biggest investments in a person’s flood plains, high water levels, bedrock and bluffs. allowed in the area that may
life, and there are many considerations. Know the required setbacks for these features and be undesirable to you?
deSIRed USe OF The PROPeRTY: The first and if they will impact a planned building site, a base­ (gravel pits, dog kennels,
most important consideration is the desired use of ment, or a sewage treatment system. dusty roads)
the shoreland property. Will it be a wilderness re­ SOIL CONdITIONS: The soils should be suitable ˆ Is the road owned and
treat to get away, or a friendly rural neighborhood for the desired use. Wet soils, shallow bedrock or maintained by a government
to enjoy nature and water related activities? Think­ clay soils are generally unsuitable for the water agency?
ing this through will save many frustrations. It is a absorption required in sewage treatment systems,
good idea to spend time in the area and to gather and can make building construction difficult. Fill
information about the water body and surround­ that is added to wetlands is regulated by the DNR,
ing resources. Various government agencies, in­ County, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The cost
cluding state, county, and local government can and questionable outcome of trying to develop in
provide such information. these areas may not be worth the effort.
PROPeRTY ZONINg: Before shoreland property vegeTaTION: Plants are part of the aesthetic and CheCk list for purChasing
is purchased, a prospective owner should confirm ecological value of shoreland property. Local zon­ developed land:
it is zoned for the desired use, whether that is a ing ordinances regulate the amount of vegetation
seasonal cabin, year round home, resort or ma­ that can be removed along the shoreline. Tilling is ˆ Are the improvements you
rina. not allowed unless it is under an approved con­ have planned within the
LOT SIZe: The lot should be large enough to ac­ servation plan. If a sandy swimming beach is a standards set in the zoning
commodate the desired use and that use should desired feature, you should look for a parcel that ordinance?
comply with the local zoning requirements. Lots already has one. ˆ Has there been a sewage
that have been created before the standards weTLaNdS: There are many types of wetlands treatment system inspection
took effect are legal to buy and sell, but may be that perform different, valuable functions. They and water quality test?
too small to accommodate a building or sewage also have different standards of protection from ˆ Do you know the utility and
treatment system. alteration and use. Contact the Planning and De­ property tax costs for the prior
LOT ShaPe: Although the size of the parcel may velopment Department to identify these areas. two years?
meet zoning requirements, the shape can re­ UTILITIeS: Find out what utilities are available at ˆ Have you met the new
strict the use and location of the structures. Some the property and building site. neighbors?
shapes may make it impossible to meet require­ hIddeN aNd “OTheR” COSTS: Consider some
ments such as setbacks and sewage treatment of the sometimes “hidden” costs, such as building
systems. and maintaining (including snow removal) a road
SeTbaCKS: When choosing property, be aware of to the site, drilling a well, bussing and distance to
the standard setbacks and plan accordingly. school districts, and closest conveniences.

Shoreland Guide 5 St. Louis County, MN

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SUCCeSSFUL PaRCeL deveLOPMeNT
shoreland benefits

unsustainable shoreland ecosystem sustainable shoreland ecosystem


does not promote a healthy community, promotes a healthy community,
environment, and economy. environment, and economy.

sewage system
pollutants
Sewage system
pollutants
• Sewage
system
below
standards • No erosion • Dwelling
• House too control • Fertilizer on is screened
close to bluff • Runoff waste shoreline from lake
causing • Impervious • Artificial • Polluted • Dock and • Filter strip • Runoff and
• Ground water plants leach • Aquatic pollutants • Standard
erosion and pollutants surface stairway help keeps
into lake, beach water life and shoreline filtered and setbacks
lack of water contributing stimulating allows no destroys • No healthy avoid impact,
filtration of stable, absorbed by respected
filtration to the lake, excess natural aquatic water enjoyed by filter strip
water swimmers healthy • Sufficient
contaminating algae habitat life
• Vegetation not and boaters and scenic sewage
water • Excess except
Animals maintained algae system

guides are available on UNdeRSTaNdINg ShOReLaNd


bmP’s, including the following beNeFITS Best Management practices (BMps):
Over time, the waterfront environment has devel­
subjects. Contact the Minnesota
oped a natural, delicate balance between water, BMPs have been established for nearly
Extension Service. (See p. 10 for
contact information.) land, vegetation, and wildlife. This balance can all activities that have potential impact
• Beaches, Boating and Fishing, easily be disrupted by humans who rearrange,
Camping, Off-road Vehicles, pollute or destroy any component of this equi­ to the shoreland. Voluntary compliance
Preventing Introduction of Exotic librium. Shoreland property owners have the
privilege and the responsibility to preserve and
with BMP’s, in addition to the setbacks, lot
Species
• Building near the shore, Docks, develop their land in harmony with the natural sizes, and other requirements mandated
environment. Owners can maintain a high quality
Decks and Accesses, Landscaping
and sustainable relationship with their environ­ by local zoning, will help achieve a healthy
Plans
• Trees, Vegetation, Filter Strips, ment. shoreland area.
Wetlands, Timber Harvesting,
Wood Lots, Lawns and Gardens, beNeFITS OF a PROTeCTed ShOReLaNd
Yard Waste Protecting your shoreland includes the following • Development
  that follows established best man-
• Animals, Farming and Crops, features and benefits: agement practices and land use standards mini-
Pesticides and Fertilizers, •  Undisturbed vegetative strips along all the mizes negative effects on the natural environ-
Encouraging Wildlife shoreline reduces and slows runoff and filters the ment.
• Septic Systems, Safe Water remaining runoff. • Sustainable
  outdoor recreational pursuits allow
Supplies, Hazardous Household • Healthy
  wetland complexes contribute to good people to enjoy the outdoors without damaging
Products water quality. the environment.
• Preventing Erosion, Minimizing • Floodplains
  absorb storm water runoff, maintain • An  untouched or “natural” look to landscaping
Runoff, Construction Activities, water quality, secure vegetative diversity, pro- sustains scenic value and visual quality.
Developing Landscapes, vide wildlife habitat, and contribute aesthetic
Alterations and Roads qualities.
• Diverse
  plant communities and healthy aquatic
and upland habitats result from sensitive devel-
opmental plans.

St. Louis County, MN 6 Shoreland Guide

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SUCCeSSFUL PaRCeL deveLOPMeNT
shoreland protection

PROTeCTINg The ShOReLaNd


Activities that focus on the waterfront are pri­
mary reasons people choose to live by a lake or
river. Sustainable shoreland ecosystems promote
a healthy community, environment, and econo­
my by protecting the water quality, the natural
resources, and the shoreline quality.
waTeR qUaLITY PROTeCTION
Water quality is protected by implementing these
Best Management Practices:
• Follow
  land use standards impacting the water­
shed.
• Plant
  and maintain healthy vegetative buffer original alloWed: not alloWed:
along the shoreline. vegetation 25% of vegetation 25% of vegetation
• Maintain
  wetlands. removed evenly removed as a clearcut
NaTURaL ReSOURCe PROTeCTION aNd baL­ across impact zone opening, and all in front
aNCed LaNd USe of house
m Creation of healthy communities where people
work and live together balanced by protected
natural resources includes:
• Preservation
  of natural vegetation and habitats.
• Implementation
  of established best manage­
ment practices. vegeTaTIve ReMOvaL STaNdaRdS state standards
• Integration
  of commercial developments into The removal of natural vegetation within the the department of natural
the environment in ways that minimize negative shore and bluff impact zones should be limited resources prepares minimum
effects on the natural environment. to the following: statewide development standards
ShOReLINe PROTeCTION A. The removal of dead, diseased, dangerous, for shoreland, floodplain, and wild
Shorelines are vulnerable to impact and are vital and storm or fire damaged trees, shrubs, and scenic river areas.
to water quality. The entire shoreland benefits by and plants. the shoreland management
protecting the shoreline in the following ways: B. The trimming and pruning of trees, shrubs Program provides orderly de­
and plants. velopment of the shoreland and
vegetative Screening: See standards on the protects lakes and rivers from pol­
right. C. The removal of 25% of trees (greater than
two inches in diameter at breast height), lution by individual sewage treat­
Structures: Design structures to be eco-sensitive, shrubs and plants. ment systems and other non-point
since buildings often make the most dramatic D. Authorized removal of trees, shrubs and sources.
change to the appearance of the shore. plants should not be done with heavy the Floodplain management
Size: Minimize the overall size of any structure and equipment. Program is intended to mini­
the profile facing the water. mize the threat to life and prop­
exeMPTION TO vegeTaTIve ReMOvaL erty resulting from flooding. This
building Materials: Select materials that are nat­ STaNdaRdS program restricts development in
ural or have a natural appearance. Removal in excess of 25% of existing vegetation floodplains by preventing struc­
Color: Select earth tones for your structure color is allowed, with approval, under the following tures from being built at too low
to blend in with the surroundings. Flowers and conditions: an elevation in areas that have a
vegetation hues provide good accent colors. A. The vegetation removed is replaced with high risk of flooding. It also con­
other plants that have similar or more ben­ trols encroachment so that the
accessory Structures: If an accessory structure is eficial shoreland values (ecological, erosion
needed, build only one. floodplain’s capacity to hold flood
preventive, and screening) than previously water will not be reduced, causing
docks and boat Storage: If these structures are existed. flooding to properly located areas.
necessary, limit their impact by keeping the size to B. The vegetation removed is part of a forest the Wild and scenic rivers
minimum standards and designing them to blend management activity or timber producing Program is a program intended
in with the shoreline. area and will not to be converted to other to preserve and protect rivers with
Shoreline alteration: Any shoreline alteration more intensive use. outstanding scenic, recreational,
should be carefully considered, well designed, natural, historical, and scientific
and approved by the Planning and Development values.
Department.

Shoreland Guide 7 St. Louis County, MN

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SUCCeSSFUL PaRCeL deveLOPMeNT

identifying the shoreland

ShOReLaNd
glossary: Shoreland is identified as
shoreland area: The land locat­ the land located within a
ed within a set distance of public distance of public waters
waters as follows: 1,000 feet from as follows: 1,000 feet from
lake or flowage; 300 feet from river Shoreland Area
a lake, pond, or flowage;
or stream. 300 feet from a river or Shoreline
ohWl: Ordinary High Water Level. Setback River Corridor
stream.
Typically the level where the wa­
ter is highest during an average
spring thaw. Ordinary High
shoreline setback: A set dis- Water Level
tance from the shoreline that (OHWL)
restricts development between it IdeNTIFYINg ShORe­ River/Stream

and the shoreline, or OHWL. LaNd aReaS: Identifica- Lake


shore impact Zone: Measured tion of shoreland areas Shore
standard distance landward from includes the Ordinary Impact
the Ordinary High Water Level of High Water Level (OHWL), Zone
general development and recre- the shore impact zone,
ational development lakes. the shoreline setback, house

bluff impact Zone: Typically in- and the river corridor.

cludes the bluff, or steeply sloped

area, plus 20 feet out from it.

river corridor: Measured stan­ Shoreland


dard distance landward from the video
available on this subject
ordinary high water level of rivers. www.co.st-louis.mn.us

Q. i have a land use question I’d


like to ask the Planning & Develop­
ment Department. What informa­
tion might the county ask me for? river corridor Width shoreland setback & imPact Zone
a. Your parcel ID number and your Vermilion River 500’
property address. RIVER, LAKE OR STREAM SHORE SHORE
St. Louis, Cloquet, 1/4 mile: Remote, Rural Agriculture, Rec- SETBACK IMPACT
Whiteface reational River Classes zONE
1/2 mile: Primitive Class
Natural Environmental Lakes 150’ 75’
All Other River Class­ 300’
es Recreational Development Lakes 100’ 50’
In some areas, concerned citizens
and/or lake associations have in- General Development Lakes* 75’ 50’
formally established restrictions river dimensional standards:
for recreational use of surface (Includes dimensions for land immediately adjacent to 300’ Mine Pit Lakes 150’ 75’
water. Some of these, such as “no shoreland river districts) Trout Streams 150’ 75’
wake “ zones, are intended to help RIVER DIMENSIONAL DISTRICT*
protect water quality. Others are DNR Remote Rivers 200’ 100’
more social and are designed to Vermilion River Remote 4a Forest Rivers 150’ 75’
enhance community enjoyment, Vermilion River Forested 5
such as noise reductions, curfews, SLC Primitive 300’ 150’
etc. Check with your lake or prop- St. Louis County Primitive 1a SLC Remote Rivers 200’ 150’
erty owners’ association for infor- Primitive
Remote 2 SLC Urban 100’ 75’
mation on such regulations.
Rural Agri­ 3a Rural Agricultural Rivers 200’ 150’
culture
Recreation 150’ 75’
Recreation 4
All other Protected Lakes and Rivers 100’ 75’
* See Dimensional Standards graph on page 17 for correlating
dimensional standards for your district. *May be reduced to 37.5’ with performance standards

St. Louis County, MN 8 Shoreland Guide

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SUCCeSSFUL PaRCeL deveLOPMeNT
impact sensitive areas

20’ 60’ 15’ 15’ 60’ 20


croPland runoFF managed undisturbed stream bottom undisturbed managed Forest runoFF Pasture
control Forest Forest Forest control
Sediment, Concen­ Plants filter, Maturing trees Debris stabilizes creek bottom, Tree removal is Periodic harvesting is Controlled Watering
fertilizer and trated flows enrich, use stabilize bank, releases nutrients and provide generally not necessary to remove grazing or facilities
pesticides are converted and modify the provide detritus shelter and cool shade for permitted in this nutrients sequestered haying can and live­
are carefully to dispersed sediments and to stream and aquatic dwellers. zone. in them and to main­ be permit­ stock are
managed. flows. chemicals in lower its water tain nutrient uptake ted under kept out of
runoff water. temp. through vigorous tree certain the Ripar­
growth. conditions. ian zone.
Vegetative buffers next to water bodies are impact sensitive areas.

IMPaCT SeNSITIve aReaS


These areas have more restrictive standards due The bluff impact zone: This area includes the
to their sensitivity to impact and their value to the bluff plus the land located within 20 feet from
ecosystem. the top of the bluff (away from the shore).
vegeTaTIve bUFFeRS: Consideration is given Shallow soil bluff standards: Apply to bluffs
to the vegetative buffer strip along rivers, streams where the soil depth over the ledge rock aver­
and lakes because their presence shelters, or buf­ ages 24 inches or less. 150% of structure setback
fers these areas and the waters from the surround­ requirements with following conditions:
ing impact.
• Suitable
  area for sewage available.
• Erosion
  control standards followed.
bLUFFS: Consideration is given • Shore
  impact zone shall be 1/2 the new struc­
to the bluff area because of their Shoreland
ture setback.
vulnerability to erosion through video • Structures
  may be placed within standards if all
runoff. available on this subject
www.co.st-louis.mn.us the following conditions are met:
Characteristics of a bluff are: a. Approved sewage treatment and expansion
• Land
  slopes toward water. area exists.
• Elevation
  rises a minimum of 25 feet above b. Sufficient screening and vegetative filter strip
OHWL. exists.
• Land
  has a slope of 30% but does not include a c. Erosion control standards consistent with Soil
break in slope, where the slope is less than 18% and Water Conservation District guidelines.
over a 50 ft. run. break in Slope
A break in slope is determined as a slope of 18%
or less over 50 feet. Bluff impact zone does not
apply to these areas.

ide Shoreland Guide 9 St. Louis County, MN

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SUCCeSSFUL PaRCeL deveLOPMeNT
obtaining further information
glossary:

lot of record: A lot which is re­ tyPe oF inFormation dePartment & location Web site & Phone
corded in the office of the county

recorder or registrar of titles.


Parcel and Tax Information St. Louis County Auditor www.co.st-louis.mn.us/auditor/parcelinfo
nonconforming lot of record: Phone: 218-726-2380
A lot that has been lawfully created County Plat Book St. Louis County Auditor www.stlouiscounty.org/MapProducts.htm
and recorded that no longer meets Extension Office
the acreage and width requirements Phone:(218)725-5134
of current lots. Extension Office (218)733-2870
county Plat book: A map book Surveyors See Yellow Pages “Surveyors or Engineers” for
that shows each township and par­ private businesses
cel ownership.
corner monument: A property Corner Monuments (Public) St. Louis County Public Works www.co.st-louis.mn.us/PublicWorks/Surv/
corner mark placed by a licensed Surveyor.htm
surveyor. A public corner monument Phone: Duluth: 218-625-3878
is a section or quarter corner land Virginia: 218-742-9800
marker that is maintained by the
Land Survey Division of the Public Subdivision Plats Recorder’s Office www.co.st-louis.mn.us/webplats/
Works Department. Phone: 218-726-2677
Ordinance Standards, Land use plan­ St. Louis County Planning & Development www.co.st-louis.mn.us
obtaining legal ning, permits and guides Department Phone: 218-725-5000
inFormation 100 Missabe Bldg. Northland Office Cntr. 1-800-450-9777 (MN only)
Knowing the property boundaries 227 W. 1st St. 307 1st St. S. Phone: 218-749-7103
and its dimensions is important for Duluth MN 55802 Virginia, MN 55792
all land owners. It is best to keep
them marked and maintain the Site reviews for wetlands, Ordinance St. Louis County Planning and Development www.co.st-louis.mn.us
marks at all times. A “County Plat Standards, Land use planning, permits Northland Office Center Phone: 218-749-7103
Book” (resource information on the and guides 307 1st St. S. 1-800-450-9777(MN only)
right) can assist in general prop­ Virginia, MN 55792 Fax: 218-749-7194
erty layout, but a private, licensed
surveyor must determine official Wetland regulations on all lands on the Fond du Lac Reservation Phone: 218-878-8022
boundaries. The Land Survey Divi­ Fond du Lac Reservation and informa­ Office of Water Protection Fax: 218-879-4854
sion of the County Public Works De­ tion and support on water quality and 1720 Big Lake Rd.
partment maintains all section and other natural resources Cloquet, MN 55720
quarter landmarks and associated Regulates deposition of fill or dredge U.S. Army Corps of Engineers www.mvp.usace.army.milphone
survey records throughout St. Louis material in waters of the U.S. or adjacent 1554 Hwy 2. Ste 2 Phone: 218-834-6630
County. Most parcel information is wetlands Two Harbors, MN 55616
available online or from the county (Work with local contact first)
auditor’s office.
splitting or consolidating par­ State administration of the Mn Wetlands State of Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Re­ www.bwsr.state.mn.us
cels must meet current zoning stan­ Conservation Act sources (BWSR) Phone: 218-723-4923
dards; check with the Planning and (Work with local contact first) 394 S. Lake Ave., Ste 403 Fax: 218-723-4794
Development Department or the Duluth, MN 55802
appropriate township clerk. Named
subdivision plats are available online Regulations and permits on public DNR Waters www.dnr.state.mn.us
in PDF format or through the St. Lou­ waters and some wetland types Duluth Area: Phone: 218-834-6612
is County Recorder’s Office. Scanned (Work with local contact first) 1568 Hwy. 2 Fax 218-834-6639
plats include all originals and any Two Harbors, MN 55616
rearrangements or modifications. Remainder of St. Louis County: Phone: 218-744-7450
Subdivision regulation guides are 7979 Hwy 37 Fax: 218-744-7451
also available. Eveleth, MN 55734
restrictions on a nonconforming Educational info in protecting water and Minnesota Extension Service www.extension.umn.edu/Environment
lot of record: Lots of Record may be natural resources 111 GSC Phone: 218-726-7512
permitted as a buildable lot if all of 320 W. 2nd
the following criteria can be met: Duluth, MN 55802
• The lot has a minimum of 1/2
acre suitable for development and Technical, educational, and financial North St. Louis SWCD www.nslswcd.org
sewage treatment system, unless resources to land occupiers in order to Northland Office Center Phone: 218-742-9505
connection to a municipal sewer implement practices and projects that 307 1st St. S. Ste 114 Fax: 218-742-9515
system is available. preserve, protect and enhance water Virginia, MN 55792
• It is a lot of record. quality and other natural resources
• The lot created complied with South St. Louis County SWCD www.southstlouisswcd.org
regulations in effect at the time. 25 N. 1st Ave. E., Rm 301 Phone: 218-723-4867
• Sewage treatment and building Duluth, MN 55802 Fax: 218-723-4731
setbacks are met.

St. Louis County, MN 10 Shoreland Guide

Shoreland Guide3-26.indd 10 2/25/10 3:47:45 PM


ZONINg

jurisdiction and districts

Zoning administrator • ZONING •


administration
contact inFormation
name:
71-21

Township zoning administered by St.


71-20

st. louis county Planning


and development
70-21
70-20
70-18
Louis County
70-19

Duluth: (218) 725-5000 69-20 69-19 City and township zoning administered Phone:
Virginia: (218) 749-7103 Kabetogama 69-18
69-17 by own zoning department
68-21 68-20 68-19 second
rv/ canosia town hall 68-18

Phone:
68-15
68-14

4896 Midway Rd. 53


68-13

67-21 67-19 Crane Lake


67-20 67-18 67-15 67-14

(218) 721-4944 67-13

66-21 66-20 Camp Five 66-16 66-15 66-14 66-13

duluth city Zoning 66-12


best time
411 W. 1st St., Ste. 210
Leiding Portage
65-21
65-16 65-15 65-14 65-13 65-12
to reach:
(218) 730-5240 ORR

64-21 64-17 64-16 64-15 64-14 64-13 64-12

duluth township town hall Beatty

6092 Homestead Rd 63-21 Willow Valley


63-19
63-17
Greenwood
63-14 note:
(218) 525-5705 Field 63-15
1691 Morse
ELY

COOK 62-17
62-21

town of gnesen
Breitung Eagles Nest
Linden Grove 53 Owens
TOWER

4355 Evan Rd. Morcom


Sturgeon Alango
1
61-17 Vermilion Lake
Kugler
61-14 61-13
61-12

(218) 721-5433 73

60-19
Angora
135
60-18 169
Sandy Pike BABBITT
Embarrass

city of hermantown
60-20
French
Waasa

5255 Maple Grove Rd.


59-16
Wuori HOYT
59-21 Great Scott White LAKES

(218) 729-3600
Balkan MT. IRON
BIWABIK
KINNEY AURORA
VIRGINIA MCKINLEY
Biwabik
BUHL
GILBERT

town of lakewood
CHISHOLM
EVELETH 58-14
LEONIDAS Bassett

1932 E. 1st.St. HIBBING Cherry


IRON JCT
Clinton Fayal 57-16 57-14

(218) 728-1015
169 37
310
618

Administered by
56-17 Colvin 56-14 Fairbanks
56-16

town of midway
3467 Lindahl Rd. 55-21
Lavell
Mcdavitt
53

Ellsburg 55-15 55-14


Ault County, City, or
(218) 624-1626 Township
73

Toivola Kelsey Cotton 54-15 54-14 54-13 Pequaywan (from OHWL to landward) Ordinary High Water
town of rice lake Cedar Valley
Level (OHWL)
4107 W. Beyer Rd. Elmer MEADOWLANDS
Meadowlands
Northland
53-16 53-15 North Star Alden

(218) 721-5101
52-21 New Independence Gnesen
Normanna Duluth
Van Buren Ness Alborn Fredenberg

Proctor city hall FLOODWOOD


Grand Lake
61

100 Pionk Dr.


Industrial Lakewood

Administered
Floodwood Culver 33
Rice Lake
Halden Canosia
BROOKSTON
(218) 624-3641
73
Arrowhead

by the State:
2 53
DULUTH
Prairie Lake Fine Lakes Stoney Brook
Brevator
HERMANTOWN Water Level
town of greenwood
Solway
DNR (from OHWL
2

PROCTOR

4227 Nelson Rd. Note: These zoning maps are an integral Midway
35
to waterward)
part of Ordinance 46, the zoning
Tower, MN 55790 Ordinance of St. Louis County, MN and
Phone: (218) 290-1132 may not be used independently.

T here are two types of jurisdictions for zoning in additional dimensional numbers added to sig-
St. Louis County: one is administered by St. Louis nify the dimensional standards or parcel size
County and the other is administered by its own of that district. Thus, every zoning district is la-
city or township zoning department. If your city or beled with an abbreviated name (e.g. Residen­
township is designated on this map as having its tial: RES, Shoreline Mixed Use: SMU) and fol­
own zoning ordinance, you should contact them lowed by a dimensional district (e.g. 1,1a, 2,3,4).
for your zoning and permit information. Township Identify your land use and dimensional district
zoning is required to be at least as restrictive as as a first step of your project. Be aware that there
the county zoning, and may be more restrictive. may be circumstances that alter the standards for
Townships are divided into zoning districts, with your property.

Shoreland Guide 11 St. Louis County, MN

Shoreland Guide3-26.indd 11 2/25/10 3:47:48 PM


ZONINg
lot design
pageand
subheading
landscaping

start a landscaPe Plan LOT deSIgN


Two important steps in getting The first step to good lot design is to map your geNeRaL gUIdeLINeS FOR LaNdSCaPINg
started on your plan are to draw a property. A guide is available on page 16. A topo­
detailed map of your property (see graphical map may also be very helpful. •  Any disturbance of ground cover (grass or
page 16) and to check with your shrubs) will expose soil. This often leads to
When working on lot layout and design, con­ erosion and slope failure. Use hay or straw as
planning and development de­ sider water runoff and practice stormwater man­
partment for local requirements. mulch to cover disturbed areas after reseed­
agement. If you have the option to arrange your ing. Consider working only in a small area and
Accurately chart on your map: buildings and grounds, you can reduce water and
• Sloping areas and drainage stabilizing that site before disturbing another.
runoff. Runoff can be a major source of pollution
patterns and erosion for lakes and shoreland and can back
• Location of roads and driveways •  Store topsoil or black dirt in a separate
up and pool in undesirable places. Natural land­ pile to redistribute back to the top layer
• Potential building site scapes, distribution of runoff, reduced impervious
• Existing vegetation and wildlife when you are finished with your proj­
surfaces and Best Management Practices (BMPs) ect. Cover the pile to minimize erosion.
habitat are common ways to manage stormwater.
• Land features such as shoreline,
wetlands and rock outcrops •  Minimize disturbance to plants and trees. Se­
• Well, septic, future septic areas lect and save trees to gain time in landscap­
• Outbuildings and other accessory Do not wait to fix erosion problems. ing later. Protect trees from heavy equipment
by encasing them with heavy planks tied
structures
They will become more difficult and vertically around the trunks. Large trees, es­
pecially birch, can be killed by heavy traffic
costly as time passes. that compacts the soil. Putting fill material
too deeply over the roots can also kill trees.

•  Maintain a filter strip of natural vegeta­


other helPFul hints: PReSeRve NaTURaL aReaS tion along the banks of lakes and streams.
economical screening: Bulk Natural landscapes, including forests, wetlands, The best filter strip is mature woodland
supplies of native and/or hearty and grasslands trap rainwater and snowmelt. This with undisturbed grass and shrub layers.
seedlings of evergreens, leaf trees, allows the water to slowly filter into the underly­
fruit trees, shrubs, flowers and ing soil. (See General Guidelines for Landscaping •  After your grounds have been graded to mini­
vines are available each spring in the left edge of the page.) mize and control runoff, plant a permanent
through St. Louis County Soil MINIMIZe IMPeRvIOUS COveR IN YOUR LOT cover on all areas that have been disturbed.
and Water Conservation District LaYOUT Along with grass, trees and shrubs are excellent
(SWCD). See page 10 for contact When too much of the natural surface of a site is and practical erosion-control measures. Use
information. covered by nonabsorbent (impervious) surfaces native species of trees and shrubs wherever
lawn or native vegetation: A such as roads, parking lots, and buildings, runoff possible. They are well adapted to our region.
large lawn may seem attractive, does not soak into the soil properly. This can lead
but natural vegetation will have to flooding, erosion and the transport of pollut­ •  Combine plants of diverse types, height, color,
lower maintenance, be of greater ants into lakes and streams. flowers and fruits. They will provide windbreaks,
value to the environment and wildlife habitat, privacy screens and shade.
wildlife, and can be just as visually dISTRIbUTe RUNOFF
appealing. The best design directs yard drainage toward the •  Use Best Management Practices. BMP guide
landward side of the rise, or where water does not sources are at the bottom left of this page.
run directly downhill into the lake. This practice
limits the influence of water runoff.
Building on the waterside of the drainage divide
directs runoff directly to the lake. These sites are
prone to increased erosion and sedimentation, USe beST MaNageMeNT PRaCTICeS
the FolloWing bmP guides BMPs are proven erosion and sediment control
are available from the Minnesota and will not maintain value as well as a site which
drains away from the lake. measures, and should be an important compo­
Extension Service. See Page 15 for nent of construction plans. BMPs include seeding
contact information. Locate driveways, walks, rails, yard and garden and mulching disturbed areas, installing silt fences
• Developing Shoreland edges to follow level contours and gentle slopes. to trap eroded soil, and using rock check dams to
Landscapes and Construction Do not direct water directly downhill. This gives it slow water flow in ditches. Proper maintenance of
Activities maximum speed and cutting power for erosion. these practices is critical to their effectiveness.
• Stabilizing your Shoreline to Long, steep slopes have the greatest erosion po­
Prevent Erosion tential. Redirect concentrated runoff into rain gar­
• Minimizing Runoff from dens or natural swales to filter surface water.
Shoreland Property Use pervious (absorbent) areas such as grass
• Valuing your Shoreland Trees swales or terraces to help redirect and filter runoff
• Preserving Wetlands from roads and buildings.
Place structures and roads away from steep slopes
which may escalate erosion problems.

St. Louis County, MN 12 Shoreland Guide

Shoreland Guide3-26.indd 12 2/25/10 3:47:48 PM


ZONINg
building or remodeling

Land use guides with complete standards for


most types of structures and land use are very
helpful and informative: they are available at glossary
the Planning and Development Department’s Principal structure: A structure
with the primary focus of activity
office or website. as full or part-time residency

topographical map: A land map


bUILdINg OR ReMOdeLINg YOUR specifically desiged with lines to
PRINCIPaL STRUCTURe signify the changing of elevation.
Setbacks and standards must be considered when
building or remodeling your property’s structure addITIONS conforming: Meets the ordi­
or deck. An addition is a structure that alters the original nance standards
ChOOSINg a LOCaTION FOR a hOMe home or cabin and increases the original build­
nonconforming: Does not meet
Whether you are landscaping your property, build­ ing’s dimensions in any direction. the standards
ing a cabin, or designing a resort, each parcel of additions to Conforming Structures: On the
land has limitations for development. These may side of the lot facing the water, the maximum Platform: A horizontal surface,
include the type of soil, steep slopes, wetlands, width of the existing structure including the addi­ without rails, seats, or other el­
native vegetation, and other natural features. Fur­ tion can not exceed 40 percent of the lot width. If evated features, that is no greater
ther information can be found on page 5 when your home or cabin conforms to the standards in than 18 inches in height.
purchasing shoreland. An important first step is to the zoning ordinance and the addition also meets
draw a detailed map of your property. Site sketch all of these standards, there are no other size re­
information can be found on page 16. strictions.
bUILdINg additions to Nonconforming Structures: Addi­
Land use standards for principal and accessory tions to nonconforming structures may require a
structures can be found beginning on page 25. variance from the zoning ordinance as there are
ReMOdeLINg many standards that apply. A guide titled “Home
Certain types of alterations to the interior or exte­ and Cabin Additions” is available online and/or
rior of an existing structure, or remodeling, may through the county Planning and Development no land use Permit is re-
or may not require a land use permit. office. Quired For the FolloWing:
Remodeling Alterations Include: deCKS aNd PLaTFORMS
• Work performed on the interior of a structure You must obtain a land use permit prior to con­ • Remodeling of existing
• Replacement of siding, windows, doors, soffit, structing a deck, but not a platform (see the glos­ structures
facia, and ornamentation sary), considering certain conditions are met.
• Replacement of roofing, provided there is no • Accessory structures (used solely
attached decks: An attached deck is defined as for storage) of 100 square feet or
change in roof pitch or projection a horizontal, unenclosed platform that is attached
• Adding windows or doors less that meet all setbacks and
to or functionally related to a home, cabin or other standards
Alteration is NOT Remodeling when: structure. An attached deck may not have a roof,
• It increases the number of bedrooms extended soffit or walls, but may have railings, • Sanitary privies (although they
• It increases water usage seats, or other related features. need a sanitary permit, must not
• It replaces or changes the main structural Screened or enclosed decks: A screened or en­ be used for storage, and must
frame or exterior walls closed deck is considered an addition and must meet standards and setbacks)
• It changes the roof pitch or projection meet the performance standards for additions.
• It changes the exterior dimensions of the They are not allowed within the setback.
structure
If you are building a new home or cabin and would
This type of work is considered beyond remodel­ like an enclosed deck on the lake side, consider
ing, or new construction. As a result, a land use placing your home further back than the mini­
permit is required, the structure must meet all of mum setback. Contact the Planning and Develop­
the applicable performance standards of the zon­ ment Department for more information.
ing ordinance and loses its grandfathered rights additional Standards for a deck attached to a
as a nonconforming structure. Nonconforming home/ Cabin: You may construct
Remodeling Nonconforming Structure: Non­ an attached deck addition for a nonconforming
conforming structures are located on the lot in home or cabin, as long as all of the performance
such a manner that the minimum requirements standards are met. Contact the Planning and De­
for setbacks and other standards for the dimen­ velopment Department for more information.
sional district are not met.
You may remodel nonconforming structures,
such as homes, cabins, other principal structures
or decks.

Shoreland Guide 13 St. Louis County, MN

Shoreland Guide3-26.indd 13 2/25/10 3:47:49 PM


ZONINg
road and land alterations

some commonly asked


Questions:

Q. Do I need to “tell” anyone I am


building a structure?
a. Yes. You must obtain a land Top soil is conserved and erosion plans are in use before, during and Rain gardens are an excellent way of protecting shoreland that is
use permit from the St. Louis after a land alteration. impacted by alterations.
County Planning & Development
Department. ShOReLaNd ROadS, dRIvewaYS ShOReLaNd aLTeRaTIONS
aNd PaRKINg Standards have been set for shoreland alterations
Q. How do I know if my land is Standards have been designed for roads, drive­ to reduce erosion and other impact.
buildable? ways and parking to reduce their impact on the MINIMUMSTaNdaRdSFORaLLaLTeRaTIONS,
a. This is determined by a number shoreland benefits. wITh OR wIThOUT PeRMIT:
of factors, including how wet the • Smallest
  amount of bare ground exposed for as
dRIvewaY aCCeSS: short a time as possible.
site is, if the site is on rock, if the Driveway access to any parcel or lot from any pub­
land can support a structure and • Use
  mulches or similar materials for temporary
lic roadway is limited to one single driveway en­ exposure and establish permanent vegetation as
sewage treatment system, and trance per parcel, may not be located within 100
the minimum lot size. Structures soon as possible.
feet of the right-of-way line of any intersecting • Avoid
  creation of a slope or bluff.
and roads must also meet required road, and needs to meet the recommendations of
setbacks. • Erosion
  and sediment control methods shall be
the road authority. Check with your local county employed.
garage or Public Works Department.
eROSION aNd SedIMeNT CONTROL PLaNS
Q. Do I need a land use permit to PaRKINg SPaCe STaNdaRdS: aRe ReqUIRed FOR The FOLLOwINg
change the size and shape of my • An
  off-street parking space shall comprise an exCavaTIONS:
house, including a deck? area with dimensions of 9 feet by 18 feet plus • Greater
  than 1000 sq. ft or 100 cubic yards
a. Yes. necessary maneuvering space. • 1000
  cubic yards of fill
• Total
  area for parking and maneuvering shall not • 10
  cubic yards within the shore impact zone
encroach upon any public right-of-way. • Within
  300 feet of the shore or in the bluff impact
Q. Do I need a land use permit to zone
re-side or re-roof my house? addITIONaL ROad, dRIvewaYS aNd
PaRKINg STaNdaRdS: aLTeRaTION NOT PeRMITTed wIThIN
a. No, unless you are changing the • Must
  be designed to be screened from public ShOReLaNd aNd weTLaNd aReaS:
size or shape of the building. If you waters. • Alterations
  that cause unnecessary potential for
live in the city, you should check • Must
  meet structure, bluff, and shore impact soil erosion.
with your local zoning authority. zone setbacks. Design criteria and grading and • Alterations
  that cause water backup on adjacent
filling provisions of the ordinance must be met. properties.
• Intensive
  vegetation clearing in shore and bluff
impact zone and steep slopes.
ROad SeTbaCKS: • Wetland
  area alterations according to govern­
Road setbacks are determined by Zoning Ordi­ ment regulations.
nance #46 of St. Louis County. To determine your
road classification, review the zoning map. Ques­
tions about your right-of-way can be addressed
by contacting St. Louis County Public Works at
(218) 625-3830.

St. Louis County, MN 14 Shoreland Guide

Shoreland Guide3-26.indd 14 2/25/10 3:47:50 PM


ZONINg
obtaining permits

do you know if you need the


resource dePartment/agency contact following permits?
• Land Use Permit
Land Use Permits, Conditional Use Per­ St. Louis County Planning & Development Duluth: (218)725-5000 • Variance
mits, Variances, Subdivisions Plats, Bor­ Department Virginia: (218) 749-7103 • Wetland Permit
row Pits, Nonconforming Lot of Record www.co.st-louis.mn.us • Land Alteration
• Property Address Application
Sewage Treatment System Permit St. Louis County Environmental Services www.co.st-louis.mn.us • Water Permit
Department 218-725-5200 in Duluth area • Storm Water Permit from MPCA
307 First St. S., Ste. 115 1-800-450-9278 for regional contact info.
Virginia, Minnesota 55792
glossary
All recorded documents, including St. Louis County Recorder 100 N. 5th Ave. W., Room 101 Duluth MN shoreland: Land located within
easements that currently exist or were www.co.st-louis.mn.us/recordersoffice/ the following distances from pub­
vacated Recorder.html lic waters: 1000 feet from ordinary
high water level of a lake; and 300
Access Across Private Land You must work with the existing owners to feet from a river.
gain access if you need to access your prop­ nonconforming use: Legal use
erty by way of privately owned
page land.
15 recorded prior to the adoption of
Access Across State Lands MN Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) Phone: (218) 999-7890 www.dnr.state. the ordinance which would not
mn.us/lands_minerals/index.html have been permitted had the ordi­
nance been in effect.
Access Across County Tax-Forfeit Land St. Louis County Land Department Phone: (218)726-2606
www.co.st-louis.mn.us/Land.html conditional use: A land use with
restrictions in relation to the rest
Access Across County Fee Lands St. Louis County Property Management Phone: (218)733-2781 of the neighborhood and county
www.co.st-louis.mn.us/PropertyManage plans.
ment/HomePage.htm
Performance standard per­
Driveway Entrance and Culvert Permits County Roads: St. Louis County Public Works: If unknown call (218)625-3830 mit: Authorization given for a use
Please Contact your local county garage www.co.st-louis.mn.us/PublicWorks/pub which must meet a minimum set
City/Township Roads: Contact City/Town­ wk_faq.htm of predefined standards or criteria.
ship
variance: Any modification from
a county land ordinance deter­
ObTaININg PeRMITS mined by the Board of Adjustment
The St. Louis County Planning and Development Conditional Use Permits are required for uses, that the enforcement or ordinance
Department oversees many different types of including, but not limited to, a home-based busi­ would cause unnecessary hard­
permits for land use. These include the land use ness, resort, campground, B & B, repair shop, rural ship.
permit, conditional use permit, performance stan­ industry, mini storage, convenience store and/or storm water: Surface water run
dard permit, borrow pit permits, communication gas station. Permits are also required for non con­ off from rain or snow melt.
tower permits, home occupation/business permit, forming lots of record, variances, subdivision plats,
subdivision and variance permits. borrow pits, communication towers, driveways
and septic systems. Applications are available
Land Use Permits are required if you alter a parcel from the county land office or website. things to consider:
in any way including, but not limited to, erecting, • A construction permit will
constructing, reconstructing, moving, or altering a Sewage Treatment Systems must have approval become void after 12 months.
structure. Land use permit applications and their from St. Louis County’s Environmental Services De­ Permit extensions may be
guides are available from the St. Louis County partment for each new residence or addition with granted if the proposal meets
Planning and Development Department and/or a bedroom, bathroom, laundry or kitchen facilities. ordinance requirements.
their website. The applications and the guides are See the chart above for contact information. • Restrictions apply limiting the
designed to work together to assist property own­ Individual Utilities are not regulated by the percentage of lot that may be
ers and contractors to successfully complete land county. Wells must be registered with the state, covered with impervious material,
use permit applications. The most difficult and which is usually handled by the well driller. Elec­ including roofs, gravel and paved
time consuming part of the land use permit pro­ trical and plumbing standards are set by the state. driveways, turnarounds and
cess is adequate research of a parcel of land and to It is the responsibility of the utility to obtain utility sidewalks.
describe your intentions on the application. easements. Electrical inspections are required by • Standards for a principal structure
inspectors assigned by the state to specific areas. can be found on page 25.

Shoreland Guide 15 St. Louis County, MN

Shoreland Guide3-26.indd 15 2/25/10 3:47:51 PM


ZONINg
permit sketches
Lake
glossary Lake
side yard near: The closest dis­ Wetland
Area
tance from your side property line Features to Trees
Trees
to your proposed project. include and label
side yard far: The longer dis­ on your ProPerty

88’ Shoreline

125’ Shoreline
tance from your side property line sketch:

Setback
to your proposed project. • Property boundaries

Setback
rear yard: The distance from your and dimensions Trees
proposed project to the property • Existing structures
line opposite the road. with dimensions and Well
setbacks
lot width: The measurement of • Proposed structures
the property between the side

292” Property Depth


with dimensions and 24’
property lines at the principal setbacks 50’ Side- Proposed Deck 6’ 126’ Side-
structure site. • Roads and driveways yard Near yard Far
road center line: The distance Existing
with road names and 24’
from the center of the road to a House
setbacks
specified structure. • Septic system with 24’
maximum lot coverage: shall future expansion and Septic
include all structures, driving sur­ required setbacks System
faces including graveled surfaces, • Well with setbacks
and all other altered surfaces. • Underground cables 40’
bluff area: Land that rises at least and pipes, overhead Proposed 60’ Side-
wires 100’ Side- yard Near
25 feet above the OHWL and has a yard Far Garage
slope of 30% or more over a 50 ft • Wetland and set 20’
distance. Stricter standards may backs
apply on some rivers. • Hills, bluffs, sloping Septic
river corridor: Area of mea­ areas and drainage Expansion Trees
surement from the ordinary high patterns Area
162’ Rearyard

• Areas of vegetation
Centerline
174’ Road
water level of a river landward
188’ Rearyard
Setback

removal and grading


Centerline
200’ Road
for the distance that is set in the
Setback

ordinance. • Symbol depicting


North as the top of
the page N
• Scale (actual feet/per Trees Dr
inch on paper)
ive
• Signature of owner
wa
y

A sketch of your property scaLe:


200’ Property
Width
is required when you /
submit an application
for a land use permit. A feet/inch
permit will not be issued
without a sketch.
Road Centerline
This example of a permit sketch can be a useful reference when preparing your own property sketch.
PeRMIT SKeTCheS:
Your sketch is an important part of the permit ap­ permit. Additional information may be attached
plication. It identifies the location and distances to your sketch to address specific zoning criteria.
aPPlication Fees, deadlines,
and dates of possible hearings are of your project in relation to other features of the After submitting your application to the St. Louis
available by contacting the Plan­ surrounding property. A permit will not be issued County Planning and Development Department,
ning and Development Dept. of­ without a sketch. A complete guide for the permit it will be reviewed using the criteria for approval
fice or website. application is available from the St. Louis County found in the corresponding zoning ordinance. The
Planning and Development office or website. three criteria that must be met are:
an aPPlication guide and Before you begin your sketch, it is best to review • The
  proposed use conforms to the land use
Land Use permit application are an example and make sure your research is com­ plan.
available in an easy downloadable plete. Completeness, accuracy, good lot design, • The
  proposed use is compatible with the existing
PDF format on the county website and communication with the County (especially neighborhood.
or office. on wetland impact) prior to the permit applica­ • The
  location and character of the proposed use
tion will influence review time and issuance of a is consistent with the desirable pattern of devel­
opment for the area.

St. Louis County, MN 16 Shoreland Guide

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ZONINg
general setbacks and standards

geNeRaL SeTbaCKS:
Dwelling All parcels have road and structure setbacks, or
requirements, for their zoning district.
Dimensional setbacks for your zone can be ob­
Buildable Area tained from the dimensional standards chart be­
side yard set back low. Lake, river and stream shore and road setbacks
Propery Line

will apply if you are near one of these areas. Addi­


tional standards for these setbacks may also apply glossary
in certain circumstances, such as: nonconforming Zoned land use: Land use under
Minimum Structure the jurisdiction of the zoning Ordi­
Minimum lots of record, size of proposed structure, location
Setback from Right-of- nance.
Structure Setback near bluffs, rock out cropping, or protected impact
Way zones. Information on your regulations can be ob­
from Road Zone district: A type or area of
Centerline
tained from the Planning & Development Depart­
Right-of-Way ment (See page 10). land that falls under the jurisdic­
from Road tion of the zoning Ordinance.
Right-of-Way

Centerline
dimensional standard: Regula­
tions set by the zoning Ordinance
ROAD road standards on the size of property.
ROAD CENTER RIGHT-OF-WAY
ROAD CLASSIFICATION setback standard: Regulations
LINE
set by the zoning Ordinance on the
Principal & Major Arterials 110’ 35’ distance away from structure.
Major Collectors 85’ 35’ structure standards: Regula­
Accessory Structures* 48’ 15’ tions set by the zoning Ordinance
An example of identifying road setbacks. on structures.
Minor Collectors & Local 68’ 35’
Roads Performance standards: Regu­
* Accessory structures on local roads (privately maintained), or on publicly lations set by the zoning Ordinance
maintained roads that serve ten principal uses or less. on what can be done to your land.

dimensional standards For land use districts (FAM, RES, SMU, LCO, SENS, LIU, LSO)
DIMENSIONAL 1 1a 2 3 3a 4 4a 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
DISTRICT
Minimum Lot area (acres) 35 35 17 9 9 4.5 4.5 2.5 2 1 1 1 2 0.5 0.33* .25** 2
Minimum Lot Width (ft) 600 1,200 600 300 600 300 400 200 200 150 200 150 200 100 100 75 200
% Max Lot Coverage 2 2 2 10 2 10 10 25 25 25 30 25 25 25 35 35 30
Side Yard Principal 100 100 100 50 50 50 50 20 20 20 20 15 15 15 10 10 25
(ft)
Accessory 100 100 100 25 25 25 25 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 5 5 25
Rear Yard Principal 100 100 100 100 100 50 50 45 45 45 45 40 40 40 40 40 50
(ft)
Accessory 100 100 100 50 50 50 50 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 5 5 50
Maximum 35’
Structure Height
Minimum Same as “ Minimum lot width”
Shoreline Frontage
*with public sewer **with pubic water and sewer Special standards apply for Plat of Soudan, Town of Breitung

Shoreland Guide 17 St. Louis County, MN

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dISTRICT ZONINg
land use standards

LaNd USe STaNdaRdS


All land in St. Louis County is within a zoned land use district. All permitted uses, permitted uses with performance standards, and
land use districts have a title and a dimensional standard based conditional uses. Compliance with these standards is reviewed by
on State Shoreland Regulations, the County Ordinance, and the county officials when any land use permit application is submitted.
adopted Comprehensive Land Use Plan. These are not the only standards. Wetlands, bluffs, or other charac­
teristics or structures may have standards that also apply.
The zone district is labeled and identified by an abbreviation sig­
nifying the type of zone, followed by a number designating the di­ Land Use Guides for each land use district are available at the Plan­
mensional district. Each land use district has a purpose statement, ning & Development Department’s office or website. They have
more information for your land use requirements.

. land use district:


lakeshore commercial overlay (lco)
PurPose statement: Intention of overlay is to allow limited expansion of certain
waterfront commercial activities, while protecting residential lifestyles and property
values.
Permitted uses: Remodeling, water oriented accessory structures, home business
and occupation, expansion of existing resorts for guest purposes.
Permitted use With PerFormance standards: Alterations of cabins,
redevelopment of resort cabins within standards, signs, recycling centers, single family
dwellings, public project borrow pits.

uses authoriZed by conditional use Permit: New commercial operations,


Planned Developments, utility facilities, general purpose borrow pits, mineral explora­
tion, airports.

land use district: residential (res)


PurPose statement: This district shall be used to promote a high quality residen­
tial living environment where non-residential uses are restricted and used where there
is extensive residential development. This district may be used in shoreland and non­
shoreland areas that are typically platted, or if not platted, have a development density of
dwellings of more than one dwelling per 300 lineal feet of road or shore frontage.
Permitted uses: Single-family dwellings, home-occupations.

Permitted use With PerFormance standards: Two-family dwellings, signs,


accessory structures larger than1,000 square feet, residential density controls and
density transfer.

uses authoriZed by conditional use Permit: Multiple and three and four
family dwellings, residential planned unit developments, home business, group home,
public/semi-public uses, mineral exploration and evaluation, utility facilities, mobile
home park, neighborhood commercial.

St. Louis County, MN 18 Shoreland Guide

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dISTRICT ZONINg
land use standards

LaNd USe TeRMS Permitted with Performance Standards: Uses that are permitted
A land use guide for each zoning district is available from the St.
Louis County Planning and Development Department. To best un­ if the standards are met. If the standards cannot be met, the use
derstand zoning standards and their purpose, land owners should may be allowed with a variance or conditional use permit, depend­
be familiar with the following terms: ing on the conditions.
Purpose Statement: Provides guidance for the zone district. The Uses authorized by Conditional Use Permit: Uses that require
district can not be used contrary to the purpose statement of the approval by the planning commission in accordance with the cri­
district. teria set forth in the ordinance. Uses other than those stated in the
ordinance may be permitted though the conditional use process if
Permitted Uses: Uses that are allowed with a permit from the they are similar to the uses listed under the performance standard
county, provided all standards are met. or conditional use standard of that zone district, and they are con­
sistent with the purpose of that district.

land use district: limited industrial use (liu)


PurPose statement: This district is designed to accommodate those industrial and
manufacturing uses that foster orderly economic growth, without adversely affecting the
residential and recreational character of the surrounding area. This district may be used in
a shoreland area if permitted by an adopted land use plan.
Permitted uses: Manufacturing and light industrial uses consistent with the pur­
pose of this district, warehousing, storage, and wholesaling, borrow pits-public works,
single site contaminated soils facility.
Permitted use With PerFormance standards: Manufacturing and light
industrial uses consistent with the purpose of this district, warehousing, storage, and
wholesaling, borrow pits-public works, single site contaminated soils facility.
uses authoriZed by conditional use Permit: Planned unit development
(PUD), transportation terminal, borrow pits, mineral extraction, but not processing,
recreational facilities, public/semi-public, multiple site contaminated soils disposal
facility including incineration.

land use district: Forest agricultural manage­


ment (Fam)
PurPose statement: This district is intended to recognize and promote the develop­
ment of the county’s forestry and agricultural industry and to encourage recreational use
of such areas. This district is typically used in areas with land developed at very low densi­
ties and often there is considerable government and corporate ownership.
Permitted uses: Temporary wood processing activities, home-occupation, public rec­
reational facilities, hunting shacks/other primitive dwellings, accessory uses, livestock,
seasonal residences.
Permitted use With PerFormance standard: Single-family dwellings, recy­
cling centers (public), signs, on-site and off-site, borrow pits-public works, mineral ex­
ploration and evaluation, community center facilities, residential density controls and
density transfer, single-site contaminated soil disposal, home business.
uses authoriZed by conditional use Permit: Aquaculture operations, feedlots,
rural industry, utility facilities, electric generation facility, sanitary landfills and recycling,
slaughterhouse, junk or salvage facilities, peat extraction and processing, airport, com­
mercial or private recreational uses which by their nature require large land areas,highway
commercial, neighborhood commercial, permanent forest processing, borrow pits, and
similar operations.

ide Shoreland Guide 19 St. Louis County, MN

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dISTRICT ZONINg
land use standards

land use district: sensitive areas (sens)


PurPose statement: This district is intended for areas that are unsuitable for inten­
sive development due to wetlands, steep slopes, flooding, inadequate drainage, hazardous
waste sites, high susceptibility to groundwater contamination, significant wildlife habitat
areas, severe erosion potential, or features likely harmful to the community if development
is not properly managed.
Permitted uses: Forestry management, permanent open space, wild rice farming and
related aquaculture.

Permitted use With PerFormance standards: Temporary forest processing,


home occupation, recreation trails, accessory uses and structures.

uses authoriZed by conditional use Permit: Public/semi-public uses, public


facility renovation, livestock, aquaculture, peat harvesting and processing.

land use district: lake suPerior overlay (lso)


PurPose statement: This district is intended to allow limited expansion of certain
waterfront commercial activities, while safeguarding residential lifestyles and property
values. This overlay applies only to those areas near Lake Superior where it has been
determined that nodes of residential and commercial land uses coexist, with neither being
the predominant use.
Permitted uses: Single family residence, home occupation, accessory uses and
structures, public, non-commercial recreational uses.

Permitted use With PerFormance standards: Home business, neighborhood


commercial, highway commercial, signs.

uses authoriZed by conditional use Permit: Multiple family dwelling: water­


front commercial, planned unit development (PUD), other uses similar to above.

land use district: shoreland mixed-use (smu)


PurPose statement: This district is intended to provide a balance between lake and
river use and the water resources by allowing a wide range of uses that are consistent with
adjacent land uses and the recreational and natural attributes of the water body.

Permitted uses: Single-family dwellings, seasonal dwellings, public/semi-public


uses, non-commercial uses, including trails, parks, beaches, waysides, etc., accessory uses,
home-occupation.

Permitted use With PerFormance standards: Signs, accessory structures


larger than 800 square feet, water-oriented accessory uses, two-family dwellings, resi­
dential density control and density transfer, single site contaminated soils disposal, home
business.
uses authoriZed by conditional use Permit: Planned unit developments,
multiple, two and three family dwellings, mobile home park, waterfront commercial,
neighborhood commercial, public/semi-public uses, utility facilities, borrow pits, min­
eral exploration and evaluation, livestock, public facility renovation, group home, airports,
temporary wood processing, off-site signs, aquaculture, multiple site contaminated soils
disposal facility, including incineration.

St. Louis County, MN 20 Shoreland Guide

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weTLaNdS
characteristics and impact

weTLaNd:
Wetland describes a wide variety of wet environ­ weTLaNd IMPaCT
ments varying from a slight depression, which Wetland impact is a term used to describe actions
holds water only after spring run­ that effect the environment of a wetland. Since glossary:
off, to open water wetlands most wetlands are in prime condition in their un­
that never draw disturbed state, any change is usually referred to hydrology: The study of
down. By as a negative impact. water and its effects in a
most stan­ given area.
dards, a
wetland’s soil Obligate plants: A plant
is saturated with TYPICaL aCTIvITIeS ThaT CaUSe that has adapted to a cer­
water either above IMPaCT: tain condition and lives
or just below the sur­ Filling: Adding any material to change the primarily in these condi­
face, and is covered bottom level of a wetland. tions.
with plants that have
adapted to the wet con­ draining: Removing the water from a wet­ Sequencing: A step - by -
ditions characteristic to land by ditching, tilling, pumping, or other step review process used
their wetland environ­ such techniques. to determine possibility
ment. Since there are excavating: Dredging and removing soil and of wetland development.
many laws protect­ vegetation from a wetland.
ing wetlands, it is Organic soils: Soil con­
diverting water: Preventing the flow of water taining decomposed
important to iden­ into a wetland by removing water upstream,
tify wetlands and plants; typically, peat or
Minnesota Wetlands lowering lake levels, or lowering groundwa­ composted vegetation.
their boundaries. ter tables.
Clearing: Removing vegetation by digging Mineral soils: Clay, sand,
IdeNTIFYINg weTLaNd ChaRaCTeRISTICS: or scraping. or silt with little organic
Water influences the vegeta­ Flooding: Raising water levels, either behind (or composted) material.
Shoreland tion and soil found on any site. dams or by pumping or otherwise channel­
Therefore, the vegetation, soil, ing water into a wetland so that water levels hydric soils: Soils that
video
available on this subject and hydrologic factors must all are too high for wetland vegetation and ani­ do not drain well, or that
www.co.st-louis.mn.us be addressed in identification mals to survive (i.e., converting a wetland to a have a layer of soil that
of a jurisdictional wetland. lake or pond). slows drainage.
wetland Plants: In undisturbed sites, vegetation diverting or withholding sediment: Trap­
is the most visible criterion and can be useful in ping sediment through the construction of
wetland observations. Some common wetland dams, channelization or other such projects
plants are willow, alder, black ash, black spruce, that inhibit the regeneration of wetlands in
balsam fir, aspen, cattails, sphagnum moss, red natural areas of deposition, such as deltas.
osier dogwood, and sedges. Shading: Placing pile supported platforms or
wetland Soils: Two common types of soil are bridges over wetlands, causing vegetation to
found in wet conditions. One is organic soils, or die.
peat. The second is mineral soils that do not drain Conducting activities in adjacent areas:
well because of high water table, low land, ground Disrupting the interactions between wet­
water seepage, or a slowly permeable soil layer, lands and adjacent land areas, or indirectly
such as clay. These are called hydric soils. impacting wetlands through activities at ad­
Mineral soils that are saturated much of the time joining sites.
become dull colored or gleyed. Gleyed soils are
neutral gray and occasionally greenish or bluish.
Mineral soils that are saturated for short periods
develop spots or blotches of different colors.
These spots can be an indication of hydric or wet­
land soils.
wetland hydrology: Hydrology refers to the
presence or flow of water through a site. Some
wetlands are relatively dry during drier times of
the year. Often, aerial photographs, personal in­
terviews with residents, and visual evidence are
used to determine wetland hydrology.

Shoreland Guide 21 St. Louis County, MN

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weTLaNdS

sequencing

SeqUeNCINg: The weTLaNd IMPaCT


RevIew PROCeSS
Prior to any draining, filling or excavating
 AVOIDANCE
Shoreland
in a wetland, proposed impacts to nonex- Wetlands
empt wetlands undergo a process known
video
available on this subject
as sequencing. Sequencing is a step-by­
Wetland Impacted

www.co.st-louis.mn.us step process used to assess the efforts


made by the applicant to avoid, minimize,
Wetland
reduce or eliminate impact over time, and
Driveway
replace lost wetland at the location. Wetland permits are ap­ Wetland
Route B
proved using the following principles in this order: Wetland
1. avoid Impacts: If a project can be redesigned or relocated
Driveway
to eliminate any wetland impact, you must select this option.
Route A
2. Minimize Impact: If St. Louis County determines that wet­
land impacts are unavoidable, you must demonstrate that the
project minimizes wetland impacts to the greatest extent pos­
sible. The county will consider: Route A: Recommended
• The purpose of the project (Wetlands avoided: Wetlands not Impacted)
• Size requirements of the project
• Location Route B: Not Recommended
• Sensitivity of the site design to the natural features of (Wetlands not avoided: Wetlands Impacted)
the site, including topography, hydrology, and existing
vegetation
• The function and value of the wetlands on the site
• Applicant’s efforts to show alternatives to modify the size
and scope of project
3. Rectify Impact: There may be times that a wetland impact
is impossible to avoid, but the impact either is temporary or
 MINIMIZATION
results in no net loss of wetlands. Temporary impacts may be Driveway

approved by the county if the activity is completed and the Route B

physical characteristics of the wetland are restored within six


months from the start of the activity. For example, a temporary Wetland
road through a wetland that is needed for a short term proj­
ect, and after the project is completed, the road is removed. Wetlands Driveway
A performance bond must be provided to the county for an Impacted Route A
amount sufficient to cover the cost of restoring the wetland to
pre-project conditions.
4. Reduce or eliminate Impact Over Time: Further impact
from draining or filling must be reduced or eliminated by man­
aging the project in a manner that preserves remaining wet­
land functions and values. The county requires the applicant
to implement best management practices (e.g. silt fences) to Route A: Recommended
(Wetland impact minimized)
protect wetland functions and values. May require permits and further sequencing.
5. Replace: Wetland replacement must restore the functions
and values that are lost from a wetland that is drained or filled. Route B: Not Recommended
This can be accomplished through either restoring a previ­ May Require Permits, and further sequencing.
ously drained or filled wetland, creating a new wetland in an
upland area, or purchasing credits from an approved wetland Avoidance and minimization are two important steps in reducing impact to wetlands.
bank. Contact the Planning and Development Department for
more information.

St. Louis County, MN 22 Shoreland Guide

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weTLaNdS
classify & identify

FloodPlain Forest: Wetland tyPe 1 seasonally saturated basins: Wetland tyPe 1 & 2
characteristics: Floodplain forest wetlands are poorly drained, shallow depres­ characteristics The primary difference between the two seasonally saturated ba­
sions located in the floodplain of a watercourse with no well defined inlets or outlets. sin wetlands is in the seasonal length of standing water and duration of the soil satura­
These wetlands may have standing water for a few weeks each year, but are dry for tion. Seasonally flooded basins may have alternating periods of flood and drought; high
much of the growing season. They are frequently cultivated. When they are not, wet­ water table found in wet meadows may allow the soil to remain saturated.
land vegetation can become established. Alternating periods of flood and drought
can eliminate perennial plants so annual plants typically dominate the community.
Function & values: These nutrient rich temporary water holding basins frequently
Function & values: Floodplain forest wetlands are important for reducing shore­ have an abundance of plant seeds and invertebrates, making them ideal habitats for rare
line erosion by pooling and absorbing flood waters, stabilizing the shoreline, and plants and migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, especially in spring. During periods of
providing a filter for surface runoff. Especially in the spring, these temporary water high rainfall, seasonally saturated basin wetlands collect runoff which reduces the likeli­
holding basins frequently have an abundance of plant seeds and invertebrates, which hood of seasonal flooding to downstream low-lying areas and acting as a natural filter.
makes them ideal nesting, feeding and resting areas for migrating waterfowl and
shorebirds.
vegetation: Floodplain forest wetlands are dominated by mature, deciduous vegetation: Seasonally saturated basin wetlands are dominated by non forested veg­
hardwood trees growing on soils associated with riverine systems. The shrub layer, etation that can tolerate their roots and lower stem submerged in water over a period
although usually lacking, is sparse. Floodplain forest wetlands are vegetatively pro­ of time. Seasonally saturated basin wetlands are generally dominated by aquatic and
ductive because nutrients are periodically added to the system by flooding. submergent vegetation, and are not populated by shrubs or trees.

oPen Water: Wetlands tyPe 3, 4 & 5 oPen–coniFerous bog: Wetlands tyPe 8


characteristics: The primary difference between these three open water wet­ characteristics: Bogs are one of the most distinctive kinds of wetlands, and are
lands is in the depth of standing water and duration of the soil saturation. Shallow characterized by a growth of evergreen trees and shrubs and a floor covered by a thick
marshes are in 6 inches of water during the growing season while deep marshes are carpet of sphagnum moss. Bogs form in very wet places. Some have considerable
in 6 inches to 3 or more feet of water during the growing season. Shallow open water amounts of open water surrounded by floating boggy vegetation; in others, vegeta­
wetlands have up to 6.6 feet of water and are rarely, if ever, drawn down preventing tion may have completely filled a lake. Bog wetlands soil is usually waterlogged and
emergent aquatic vegetation to become established. supports a spongy covering of mosses. Bogs occur mostly in shallow basins, on flat
Function & values: Open water wetlands are included as some of the most uplands, and along sluggish streams.
desirable of all wetlands for water birds and fur bearers, and they can also provide Function & values: Open-coniferous bog wetlands provide important habitat
spawning and nursery habitat for some fish species. Submergent plants and aquatic for wildlife, including migratory birds which use bogs on their flight paths to breed,
invertebrates provide food for waterfowl. Excellent winter habitat can be provided nest and feed. Bog wetlands are often valuable as reservoirs for streams (especially
for upland wildlife, including deer, muskrat and mink. Other functions include flood­ trout streams) and habitat for many unique plants.
water retention, protection of shorelines from erosion, aesthetics, and water quality
functions involving the trapping of sediments and absorption of excess nutrients. vegetation: Open bog vegetation is woody or herbaceous or both. Typical plants
vegetation: Open water wetlands are dominated by non forested vegetation that are shrubs, sphagnum moss, and sedges. Although scattered, black spruce and tama­
can tolerate their roots and lower stem submerged in water over a period of time. rack also occur in open bog wetlands, but their growth is stunted. In coniferous bog
Open water wetlands are generally dominated by aquatic and submergent vegeta­ wetlands, the plant communities are similar except with mature trees of black spruce
tion, and are not populated by shrubs or trees. and tamarack dominating the area.

ide Shoreland Guide 23 St. Louis County, MN

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weTLaNdS
classify & identify

shrub carr: Wetland tyPe 6 hardWood-coniFerous sWamP: Wetlands tyPe 7


characteristics: Shrub Carr wetlands occur on organic soils (peat/muck) as well characteristics: Hardwood-coniferous swamp wetlands are forested wetlands
as on the mineral soils of a floodplain. These wetlands are waterlogged much of the dominated by mature conifers and/or lowland hardwood trees. They are usually as­
growing season and often covered with as much as six inches of water. The Shrub Carr sociated with ancient lake basins and former riverine oxbows. These swamps are dis­
soil is typically saturated to the surface and may have as much as six inches of stand­ tinguished by whether the dominant trees are deciduous, hardwood or coniferous. The
ing water after spring snowmelt and heavy rainfall events. soil in these wetlands is waterlogged at least to within a few inches of the surface
during the growing season and is often covered with as much as one foot of water.
Function & values : Shrub Carr wetlands are important because of the biological Function & values: Hardwood-coniferous swamp wetlands support diverse
and chemical processes that occur within. These wetlands also perform the function plant and animal species assimilation. Pools within the forest may provide habitat for
of flood control reduction, water table maintenance, and reducing stream sedimen­ amphibians and invertebrates. Adjoining areas of open sand may provide habitat for
tation. Important breeding habitat for birds are provided by Shrub Carr wetlands. reptiles. During high water periods, they provide habitat for fish and are important for
White-tailed deer often choose Shrub Carr wetlands to graze on the abundant ground storm and floodwater storage. Diking of wooded swamps can increase both upstream
cover. and downstream flooding.
vegetation: Hardwood-coniferous swamp wetland vegetation includes tamarack,
vegetation: Floodplain forest wetlands are dominated by mature, deciduous white cedar, black spruce, balsam fir, red maple, and black ash. Northern evergreen
hardwood trees growing on soils associated with riverine systems. The shrub layer, swamps usually have a thick ground covering of mosses. Deciduous swamps frequent­
although usually lacking, is sparse. Floodplain forest wetlands are vegetatively ly support beds of duckweeds, smartweeds, and other herbs. Hardwood-coniferous
productive because nutrients are periodically added to the system by flooding. swamp wetlands are vegetatively productive because nutrients are periodically added
to the system by flooding.

Wetland Plants
Being able to identify wetland plants can help identify wetlands.

adaPted
photo by Elaine Haug @USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database courtesy of Smithsnian Institute

Plants:
If you see the
following obligate
wetland plants, you
may be looking at
wetland:
Pink weed Wild Calla Lily Waterlilies Cattails
• bog rosemary
• bog birch
• cotton-grass
• black willow
• labrador tea
• cattail
• swamp milkweed
• sand bar willow
• skunk-cabbage
• sphagnum moss
• wild rice
Black Spruce White Cedar Black Ash Alder

St. Louis County, MN 24 Shoreland Guide

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STRUCTURe STaNdaRdS
principal & accessory structures

STRUCTURe STaNdaRdS
In an effort to maintain a healthy ecosystem and quality commu­ fish cleaning houses, screen houses, gazebos, detached decks,
nity for all, standards have been set for all structures. Other stan­ and satellite dishes. These structures may be located within the
dards, such as setbacks and zoning standards, will still apply. shore impact zone or at the principal structure setback or beyond.
The maximum slope allowed for the construction site is 20%, and
PRINCIPaL STRUCTUReS must meet setbacks for slopes. Only one accessory structure, in­
Single-family homes and cabins are principal structures, and all cluding satellite dishes, is allowed within the normal shoreland
other buildings are accessory structures. setback. Bathroom and sleeping quarters (except bunkhouses)
are not allowed at this setback. The standard also requires that
aCCeSSORY STRUCTUReS the structure be stained or painted an unobtrusive color, and
Specific water-orientated accessory structures are allowed at a re­ screened from the shore by natural means. These structures are
duced shoreline setback in certain zone districts with performance not allowed in Voyageurs National Park, on trout streams, or on
standards. These include saunas, boathouses, storage buildings, Natural Environmental Lakes.

PrinciPal structures: homes and cabins


Single-family homes and cabins are called “principal structures,” and the primary focus
of the activity is full or part-time residential use. The maximum allowable width of the
water facing side of the structure cannot exceed 40% of the lot width. One principal
structure is allowed per standard lot. A land use permit must be obtained prior to
construction.
See dimensional standards on page 16 and land use regulations on following pages,
depending on zone district.
A permit to construct a Subsurface Sewage Treatment System (SSTS), a certificate of
compliance of SSTS, or an SSTS exemption must accompany the land use permit applica­
tion. Driveways with direct access to a public road are required to obtain an entrance
permit. Driveways without direct access to a public road are regulated depending how
much the structure is occupied. For more information see page 27 or contact the Plan­
ning and Development Department.

decks & PlatForms


Attached decks: An attached deck is defined as a horizontal, unenclosed platform that is
attached to or functionally related to a home, cabin or other structure. It may not have
a roof, extended soffit or walls, but may have railings, seats, or other related features.
A screened or enclosed deck is considered an addition and must meet the performance
standards for additions, which are not allowed within the shoreland setback. More
information is available through the Planning and Development Department.
Decks on nonconforming Homes/Cabins are allowed if all of the following performance
standards are met: Stairs and landings are considered part of the deck; maximum depth
is 12 feet; the distance between the deck and the OHWL is less than 50% of the required
setback for the zone district.
Deck additions on the side and no closer to the shoreline: Stairs and landings are consid­
ered part of the attached deck, maximum depth of 12 feet within the impact zone or 16
feet outside of the impact zone, distance between the deck and the OHWL is less than
50% of the required setback for the zone district. Deck additions to the rear are allowed
if the maximum depth is no more than 16 feet.
Detached decks: A detached deck is defined as a horizontal, uneven platform that
is freestanding and greater than 18 inches in height at any point. It has no roof or
extended walls, but may have railings, seats, or other related features and must meet
the following performance standards if the deck is within the shore or bluff impact
zone: Maximum size of 150 sq. feet, max. height from ground to top of railing - 12 feet,
painted/stained an unobtrusive color, screened from lake by natural vegetation, no
other accessory structures or satellite dishes located within the shore impact zone.
Platforms: A platform is a freestanding, horizontal surface that is no more than 18
inches high at any point and does not have rails, seats, or other elevated features. No
land use permit is required if the following standards are met: no larger than 120 sq. ft.,
no higher than 18 in., setback at least 10 ft from shoreline, not within a bluff zone.

ide Shoreland Guide 25 St. Louis County, MN

Shoreland Guide3-26.indd 25 2/25/10 3:49:11 PM


STRUCTURe STaNdaRdS
Accessory structures
detached garages & Pole buildings
Garages and pole buildings are accessory structures primarily used for storage.
Use: May include a loft which is used only for storage purposes.
Nonconforming lot of record: Maximum total building footprint allowed is 15% of lot area.
Setback and Standards: If over 800 square feet, must meet the normal setback requirements, and the following
minimum setbacks: Side-yard lot line setback is 20 feet; General Development Lakes setback of 125 feet; Recreational
Development Lakes setback 150 feet; Natural Environment Lakes and all River Classes setback of 200 feet.
Design standards: If over 800 square feet, a standard unobtrusive color is recommended.

bunkhouses
Bunkhouses shall be reviewed as added living and bedroom space, and the septic treatment system of the principal
structure shall be sized to take into account the added water use. A septic review will be required.
Bunkhouses on shoreland lots shall not exceed 260 square feet, and 14 feet height, unless they are located on lots that
have twice the minimum width and lot area requirements, in which case the mentioned standards do not apply.

boat houses
A boat house is a structure designed and used solely for the storage of boats or boating equipment. A permit is required
prior to construction. They are allowed on all general and recreational development lakes.
Use: May not include the following: deck or roof used as a deck, storage or garage for items unrelated to water sports.
Size: On lakes under 5,000 acres: The maximum size is 400 sq. ft. with maximum width 20 feet on side most parallel
to shoreline, and a maximum depth of 26 ft.
On lakes over 5,000 acres: The maximum size is raised to 520 sq. ft. Other standards remain the same.
Setback and Standards: Setback is minimum 10 feet and maximum 25 feet from shore line, maximum width 20 feet
on side most parallel to shoreline, and a maximum depth of 26 ft. The maximum height is 14 feet from ground to roof
peak, and limited to one story.
Design standards: Boathouse must have a garage type door that faces the water.*

gaZebos and screen houses


Gazebos and screen houses are accessory structures used for shelter purposes, and a permit is required before construc­
tion. It may not have pressurized water, kitchen, bathroom, or sleeping facilities.

Setbacks and Standards: Limited to 150 sq. feet in size, one story and 12 ft. high, minimum setback of 30 ft., no decks.*

saunas
A sauna is an accessory structure used for the sole purpose of a steam bath and changing room, and storage of related
items. You must obtain a land use permit prior to construction and must be served by a grey water septic system, ap­
proved by the St. Louis County Environmental Services Department.
Setbacks and Site Design: 50 ft. from the shoreline on General Development; 75 ft, on Recreational Development lakes.
Performance Standards: 200 square ft. maximum size, and 12 ft. high; may include changing room but no bathroom,
and may not be used for storage of combustible petroleum products; shall not be attached to a structure where com­
bustible products are stored; deck is allowed but must be included as part of floor plan.*

storage & Fish cleaning buildings


A storage building is an accessory building used to store miscellaneous items. A fish cleaning building is an accessory
building used to clean fish. Permits are required before construction.*

Use: May not have an attached deck; waste from fish cleaning house must conform to county regulations and policies
regarding waste disposal.

*Unobtrusive colors are a required standard for exterior building materials used.

St. Louis County, MN 26 Shoreland Guide

Shoreland Guide3-26.indd 26 2/25/10 3:49:12 PM


STRUCTURe STaNdaRdS
sewage systems, wells & utilities

sePtic sePtic system


tank
lake or river
Contaminants move toward water
groundWater movement

Groundwater moving toward the lake can carry contaminants in saturated soil. If your system is
improperly designed or located too close to the water, contaminants may reach your lake.

Sewage TReaTMeNT SYSTeMS: In shoreland areas, it


is important to install a septic system correctly because soil and
water conditions near shore may make the system less efficient
in treating wastewater. Location and construction are especially
critical in shoreland areas to ensure that the system is effective.
Incomplete treatment can result in health risks for humans and
reduce water quality. For more information on how septic systems
work and on proper maintenance, contact the St. Louis County weLLS aNd SaFe waTeR:
Environmental Services Department. Their contact information is eNSURINg a SaFe dRINKINg waTeR SUPPLY: Most people
available on page 15. take a safe water supply for granted and assume their water is safe
to drink as it comes from the faucet. Most shoreland properties
beFORe YOU begIN: Before purchasing undeveloped property, have a private water supply that needs to be tested regularly to
evaluate whether it has a suitable area for construction of a sep­ confirm safe water.
tic system and consider the following: depth to the ground wa­ Most wells are drilled, dug, or driven. It is important to know what
ter table or bedrock, soil types and conditions, slope of land, and type of well you have and, if you are putting in a new well, what is
setback requirements from well, waterfront, buildings, property best suited for your parcel.
lines.
It is also important to ensure that the well driller you choose oper­
ates in conformance with local requirements.
INdIvIdUaL Sewage TReaTMeNT SYSTeM PeRMITS:
St. Louis County, in conjunction with the state, regulates sewage Seasonal or vacation homes that are used infrequently often have
treatment system installation and setbacks for areas that do not wells that go untested for years. It is important to test water annu­
have public treatment systems. Contact the St. Louis County Envi­ ally if the well is not used continuously.
ronmental Services Department for permits or more information.

PUbLIC Sewage TReaTMeNT ReqUIReMeNTS (hOOK-UPS): OTheR UTILITIeS:


Parcel owners receiving sewage treatment from a local provider
need to contact that provider to begin service. Electrical, plumbing and HVAC must meet standards set by the
State of Minnesota. The Building Codes and Standards Division
d can be reached at their web site at www.doli.state.mn or 1-800­
SaNITaRY PRIvY: 627-3529. Natural gas, propane, telephone, electrical, plumbing,
The sanitary privy, or outhouse, has the following set backs: HVAC, are available through private providers. Easements across
es. Any water supply, well, or unprotected water suction pipe*......50ft. tax-forfeit managed lands can only be granted to the utility.
Occupied buildings...................................................................................20ft.
Property lines..............................................................................................10ft.
*If well is cased less than 50 feet in depth or does not encounter
at least 10 feet of impervious material, this distance must be in­
creased to 100 feet.

gReY waTeR TReaTMeNT SYSTeM: A grey water treatment


system treats water draining from laundry, dishes, and showers,
but not toilets or sewage. They are usable only with seasonal use
building using non-pressurized water systems, and the sewage
tank must be 10 feet from structure and 50 feet from a well, and
the trench system must be 100 ft away from the well. The bottom
of the trench must be 3 feet above bedrock or seasonal high wa­
ter table, and requires sandy soil to a depth of 4 feet or more.

ide Shoreland Guide 27 St. Louis County, MN

Shoreland Guide3-26.indd 27 2/25/10 3:49:13 PM


shoreland
propert y records
pArcel quick reference

ProPerty ProPerty standard county my ProPerty


legal note
& reFerence Page standard record
inFormation
(Contact information P. 15) Property dimensions:

Property
address: Road Center line ( p.16)

Shoreline (p. 8)
Building &
structure Side yard near
setbacks
Parcel id#: ( page 17)
Side yard far

Rear yard

Road setback (p.17)


legal
description: From any part of septic 100 ft
Well Setback From house 3 ft
(p. 27)
From river, lake or OHWL

From house 20 ft (10 ft to tank)


Septic setback From well 100 ft.
(p. 27)
From river, lake or OHWL

Bluff setback (p. 9)


date of
Shore line setback (p. 8)
record:
Shore impact zone (p. 8)
number Vegetation restrictions (p. 7)
of acres:
Do I need to include erosion control?
other:
Is my use compatible with existing neighborhood?

Wetland area

Wetland area

Wetland area

Shoreland Guide3-26.indd 28 2/25/10 3:49:14 PM


Floodplain Forest Wetlands
Types 1

Spring Summer Fall Winter


Revised 12-2009
WET-TYPE1 © St. Louis County, Minnesota Planning and Development
Floodplain Forest Wetlands

Function and Values What is a Wetland?


Floodplain forest wetlands are perhaps most important for reducing shoreline Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems
erosion by pooling and absorbing flood waters and stabilizing the shoreline. in the world and a source of support for all of the major
These forested wetlands also provide an improvement to water quality by groups of biological organisms.
providing a filter for surface runoff and removing or retaining inorganic nutri- By most standards, a wetland has mostly wet soil, is satu-
ents and processing organic wastes. rated with water either above or just below the surface,
These temporary water holding basins frequently have an abundance of plant and is covered with plants that have adapted to wet condi-
seeds and invertebrates, which makes them ideal nesting, feeding and rest- tions. A wetland is a term to describe a wide variety of wet
ing areas for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds such as wood ducks, her- environments from a slight depression, which holds water
ons, egrets and songbirds. In spring, seasonally flooded basins are used as after spring runoff, to a forested swamp with peat soils.
pairing ponds by ducks, and the abundant invertebrate population provides The identification of wetlands can be difficult and it may be
a protein-rich diet for egg-laying hens. During high water periods, these wet- necessary for the landowner to hire a consultant to identify
lands are important places for fish, amphibians and reptiles to reproduce. wetland boundaries. A consultant can also help with wet-
land replacement and permitting requirements.

Characteristics
Floodplain forest wetlands are poorly drained, shallow de-
pressions located in the floodplain of a watercourse with
no well defined inlets or outlets. These wetlands may have
standing water for a few weeks each year, but are usu-
Water Flood Erosion ally dry for much of the growing season. Floodplain for-
Habitat est basins are frequently cultivated. However, when these
Quality Control Control basins are not cultivated, wetland vegetation can become
established. One unique aspect of floodplain forest wet-
lands is that the alternating periods of flood and drought
Vegetation can eliminate perennial plants so that annual plant species
Floodplain forest wetlands are dominated by mature, decidiuous hardwood trees grow- typically dominate the community.
ing on soils associated with riverine systems. Dominant hardwood trees found in this
wetland include silver maple, green ash, river birch, eastern cottonwood, American elm Sequencing
and black willow. The shrub layer, although usually lacking, is sparse.
Prior to any draining, filling or excavating in a wetland,
Submergent and floating – vegetation requiring complete immersion, and are rooted proposed impacts to nonexempt wetlands must undergo
in the bottom or free floating with majority of the leaves floating on the surface;
a process known as sequencing. Sequencing is a step-
Emergent – rooted vegetation where most of the plant material is above the water sur- by-step process that must be followed for clearly defined
face; water levels must fluctuate for proper growth and seed germination (usually during projects that intend to impact wetlands and reviewed to as-
drawdown in late summer);
sess the efforts made by the applicant to follow these prin-
Herbs and forbs – broad-leaved plants that typically grow either in the shallow water ciples: avoidance, minimization, reduction or elimination of
edges of wetlands, or ponds, and streams; impacts over time, and replacement. Therefore, a Local
Shrub – woody vegetation that is less than 20 feet tall with single or multiple stems; Government Unit (LGU) may not consider or approve a
species can be broad-leaved deciduous, or broad-leaved evergreen; wetland replacement plan unless the LGU finds that the
Tree – woody vegetation that dominates forested wetlands and is greater than 20 feet applicant has demonstrated the activity impacting the wet-
tall. lands has complied with all of the following principals in
ascending order:
Floodplain forest wetlands are vegetatively productive because nutrients are periodi-
cally added to the system by flooding. 1. Avoiding Impacts
The first priority is to avoid impact to a wetland. If a
project can be redesigned or relocated to eliminate
any wetland impact, you must select this option.
Trees

2. Minimization
If St. Louis County determines that wetland im-
pacts are unavoidable, you must then demonstrate
Silver Green American Black
that the project minimizes wetland impacts to the
Maple Ash Elm Willow
greatest extent possible. The county will determine
if sufficient effort was made to minimize impacts by
considering:
• The purpose of the project
• Size requirements of the project
Trees

• Location
• Sensitivity of the site design to the natural fea-
Eastern River White tures of the site, including topography, hydrol-
Aspen ogy, and existing vegetation
Cottonwood Birch Spruce

2 © St. Louis County, Minnesota Planning and Development


Floodplain Forest Wetlands

• The function and value of the wetlands on Typical Impacts


the site
• Applicants efforts to show alternatives to Filling: adding any material to change the bottom level of a wetland;

modify the size and scope of the project Draining: removing the water from a wetland by ditching, tilling, pumping, or

other such techniques;

3. Rectification
Excavating: dredging and removing soil and vegetation from a wetland;

There may be times that a wetland impact is


Diverting water: preventing the flow of water into a wetland by removing wa-
not possible to avoid, but the impact either is
ter upstream, lowering lake levels, or lowering groundwater tables;

temporary or results in no net loss of wetlands.


Temporary impacts may be approved by the Clearing: removing vegetation by digging or scraping;

county if the activity is completed and the physi- Flooding: raising water levels, either behind dams or by pumping or other-
cal characteristics of the wetland are restored wise channeling water into a wetland so that water levels are too high for

within six months from the start of the activity. wetland vegetation and animals to survive (i.e., converting a wetland to a lake

An example would be the construction of a tem- or pond);

porary road through a wetland that is needed


Diverting or withholding sediment: trapping sediment through the construc-
for a short term project. Once the project is
tion of dams, channelization or other such projects that inhibit the regeneration

completed, the road is removed. A performance


of wetlands in natural areas of deposition, such as deltas;

bond would need to be provided to the county


for an amount sufficient to cover the cost of re- Shading: placing pile supported platforms or bridges over wetlands, causing

storing the wetland to pre-project conditions. vegetation to die;

Conducting activities in adjacent areas: disrupting the interactions between

4. Reduction or Elimination of Impacts


wetlands and adjacent land areas, or indirectly impacting wetlands through

Over Time activities at adjoining sites.

Further impacts from draining or filling must be


reduced or eliminated by managing the project
in a manner that preserves remaining wetland
functions and values. The county must require
Do’s
the applicants to implement Best Management Rather than draining or filling wet-
Practices (i.e. silt fences) to protect wetland lands, seek compatible uses involv-
functions and values. ing minimal wetland alteration, such
as waterfowl production, fur harvest,
5. Replacement hay and forage, wild rice production,
Replacement wetlands must replace the func- hunting and trapping leases, and se-
tions and values that are lost from a wetland lective timber harvest.
that is drained or filled. Replacement of wetland Maintain wetlands and adjacent buf-
functions and values may occur at more than fer strips as open space.
one location.
Encourage neighbors, developers,
Conservation Level and state and local governments to
In nonshoreland areas, floodplain forest wetlands are in protect the function and value of wet-
the lowest protection level and have impacts limited to lands in your watershed.
10,000 square feet. To the extent that a local shoreland Select upland rather than wetlands
management ordinance is more restrictive than 10,000 sites for development projects and
square feet, the local shoreland ordinance applies. In avoid wetland alteration or degrada-
shoreland areas, the impact is limited to 1,000 square tion during project construction.
feet.
Impacts

Wetland Areas Boardwalk Harvesting Temporary Recreation


Road
in Minnesota
This map illustrates the Don’ts
concentrated amount
of wetlands present in
northern Minnesota when
Impacts

compared to the amount


of wetlands throughout
the remainder of the state
emphasizing the need for
wetland conservation. Dredging Filling Construction Flooding

© St. Louis County, Minnesota Planning and Development 3


St. Louis County
Contact Information
Wetland Administration, Technical Assistance & Enforcement

Primary Contact for all Wetlands Issues


Contact these agencies FIRST if you suspect wetlands exist, to request After working with primary contacts, try these agencies for additional
a review, or obtain necessary permits for projects that may affect technical assistance.
wetlands.

St. Louis County Soil & Water Fond Du Lac U.S. Army State of Minnesota State of Minnesota
Planning and Development Conservation District Reservation Corps of Board of Water & Soil Department of Natural
North St. Louis Office of Water Protection Engineers Resources (BWSR) Resources (DNR)
Waters Division
or
South St. Louis

Local administers of the Minnesota Provides technical, educational, and Administers wetland regulations on all Regulates deposition of fill or dredge State Administration of the Minnesota Regulates Public Waters Permits for all
Wetland Conservation Act. Provides financial resources to land occupiers in lands on the Fond du Lac Reservation material in waters of the U.S. or adjacent Wetland Conservation Act work within public water wetlands of types
plan and site reviews for wetland order to implement practices and projects and provides technical and educational wetlands through section 404 of the Clean 3, 4 and 5 that are 10 or more acres in size
determinations, delineations, banking and that preserve, protect, and enhance water resources to help protect and enhance Water Act and section 10 of the Rivers or 2.5 acres in incorporated areas.
replacement. Coordinates enforcement quality and other natural resources. water quality. Water Act of 1899.
with DNR.

St. Louis County North St. Louis County Fond du Lac Reservation U.S. Army BWSR DNR Waters
Planning and Development Soil and Water Office of Water Protection Corps of Engineers 394 S. Lake Ave. Ste 403 Duluth Metro
Northland Office Bldg Conservation District (SWCD) 1720 Big Lake Rd. 1554 Hwy. 2, Ste 2 Duluth, MN 55802 1568 Hwy. 2
307 1st St. S. Northland Office Bldg Cloquet, MN 55720 Two Harbors, MN 55616 Phone: 218-723-4923 Two Harbors, MN 55616
Virginia, MN 55792 307 1st St. S., Ste 114 Phone: 218-878-8022 218-834-6630 Fax: 218-723-4794 Phone: 218-834-1440
Phone: 218-749-0633 Virginia, MN 55792 Fax: 218-879-4854 Fax: 218-834-6639
800-450-9777 Phone: 218-742-9505
Rest of St. Louis County
Fax: 218-749-0620 Fax: 218-742-9515 7979 Hwy. 37
Eveleth, MN 55734
www.nslswcd.org Phone: 218-744-7450
Fax: 218-744-7451
South St. Louis County
Soil and Water
Conservation District (SWCD)
215 N. 1st Ave. E.
Duluth, MN 55802
Phone: 218-723-4867
Fax: 218-723-4731

www.co.st-louis.mn.us www.southstlouisswcd.org www.mvp.usace.army.mil www.bwsr.state.mn.us www.dnr.state.mn.us

About the Guide


This guide is designed to give general information about
wetland regulations, identifying wetland areas, common
species, and impacts to wetland areas for residents,
contractors, and professionals associated with wetland
property.
St. Louis County has over 1,000 lakes, countless rivers
and streams, and hundreds of thousands of acres of
wetlands that provide recreational opportunities to both
residents and tourists.

Obtaining the Guide


Copies of this guide are available free to all residents. Publishing Information
Requests for a large number of guides should be directed This project was funded in part by the Coastal Zone Management Act, by
to St. Louis County Planning and Development and may NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resourced Management, in cooperation
be charged a minimal fee to cover printing and production with Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program.
costs. All requests should be directed to:
The Wetland Guide was developed and published by St. Louis County
218-725-5000 Planning and Development Department.
Toll Free Minnesota 800-450-9777
www.co.st-louis.mn.us
Information Updates
St. Louis County strives to maintain the latest information available. If any
St. Louis County
information in this guide is incorrect or any additional information is needed,
Planning and Development
please contact St. Louis County Planning and Development, 218-725-5000.
100 Missabe Building
227 West First Street © Copyright. All Rights Reserved
Duluth, MN 55802
Seasonally Saturated
Basin Wetlands
Types 1 & 2

Spring Summer Fall Winter


Revised 2-2010
WET-TYPE1&2 © St. Louis County, Minnesota Planning and Development
Seasonally Saturated Basin Wetlands

Function and Values What is a Wetland?


Seasonally saturated basins are important for waterfowl and shorebirds. Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems
These nutrient rich temporary water holding basins frequently have an abun- in the world and a source of support for all of the major
dance of plant seeds and invertebrates, which makes them ideal feeding groups of biological organisms.
and resting areas for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. In spring, these By most standards, a wetland has mostly wet soil, is satu-
wetlands are used as pairing ponds by ducks, and the abundant invertebrate rated with water either above or just below the surface,
population provides a protein-rich diet for egg-laying hens. and is covered with plants that have adapted to wet condi-
Seasonally saturated basin wetlands are important places for amphibians to tions. A wetland is a term to describe a wide variety of wet
reproduce and provide habitat for rare plant species. environments from a slight depression, which holds water
after spring runoff, to a forested swamp with peat soils.
During periods of high rainfall, seasonally saturated basin wetlands collect
runoff, reducing the likelihood of seasonal flooding to downstream low-lying The identification of wetlands can be difficult and it may be
areas. In the process of collecting and storing runoff, the vegetation of these necessary for the landowner to hire a consultant to identify
wetlands removes the excess nutrients accumulated by the water, acting as wetland boundaries. A consultant can also help with wet-
a natural filter. land replacement and permitting requirements.

Differences
The primary difference between the two seasonally satu-
rated basin wetlands described in this guide is in the sea-
sonal length of standing water and duration of the soil sat-
uration. Seasonally flooded basins may have alternating
periods of flood and drought, while the high water table
Water Flood Erosion
Habitat found in wet meadows may allow the soil to remain satu-
Quality Control Control rated.

Sequencing
Vegetation
Prior to any draining, filling or excavating in a wetland,
Seasonally saturated basin wetlands are dominated by nonforested vegetation that can
proposed impacts to nonexempt wetlands must undergo
tolerate their roots and lower stem submerged in water over a period of time. Familiar-
ity with common vegetation found in these wetlands is a useful wetland determination a process known as sequencing. Sequencing is a step-
tool. Brief descriptions of vegetation types and other wetland plant indicators are listed by-step process that must be followed for clearly defined
below: projects that intend to impact wetlands and reviewed to as-
sess the efforts made by the applicant to follow these prin-
Submergent and floating – vegetation requiring complete immersion, and are rooted
in the bottom or free floating with majority of the leaves floating on the surface; ciples: avoidance, minimization, reduction or elimination of
impacts over time, and replacement. Therefore, a Local
Emergent – rooted vegetation where most of the plant material is above the water sur-
Government Unit (LGU) may not consider or approve a
face; water levels must fluctuate for proper growth and seed germination (usually during
drawdown in late summer);
wetland replacement plan unless the LGU finds that the
applicant has demonstrated the activity impacting the wet-
Herbs and forbs – broad-leaved plants that typically grow either in the shallow water lands has complied with all of the following principals in
edges of wetlands, or ponds, and streams;
ascending order.
Shrub – woody vegetation that is less than 20 feet tall with single or multiple stems;
species can be broad-leaved deciduous, or broad-leaved evergreen; 1. Avoiding Impacts
Tree – woody vegetation that dominates forested wetlands and is greater than 20 feet The first priority is to avoid impact to a wetland. If a
tall. project can be redesigned or relocated to eliminate
Seasonally saturated basin wetlands are generally dominated by acquatic and submer- any wetland impact, you must select this option.
gent vegetation, and are not populated by shrubs or trees. 2. Minimization
If St. Louis County determines that wetland im-
pacts are unavoidable, you must then demonstrate
Plants

that the project minimizes wetland impacts to the


greatest extent possible. The county will determine
if sufficient effort was made to minimize impacts by
considering:
Canary Fox Blunt Wild

• The purpose of the project


Grass Sedge Spike Rush Millet

• Size requirements of the project


• Location
• Sensitivity of the site design to the natural fea-
Plants

tures of the site, including topography, hydrol-


ogy, and existing vegetation
• The function and value of the wetlands on the
site
Giant Marsh Canada Pink

• Applicants efforts to show alternatives to


Goldenrod Aster Rush Weed

modify the size and scope of the project

2 © St. Louis County, Minnesota Planning and Development


Seasonally Saturated Basin Wetlands

3. Rectification Typical Impacts


There may be times that a wetland impact is Filling: adding any material to change the bottom level of a wetland;

not possible to avoid, but the impact either is


Draining: removing the water from a wetland by ditching, tilling, pumping, or

temporary or results in no net loss of wetlands.


other such techniques;

Temporary impacts may be approved by the


county if the activity is completed and the physi- Excavating: dredging and removing soil and vegetation from a wetland;

cal characteristics of the wetland are restored Diverting water: preventing the flow of water into a wetland by removing wa-
within six months from the start of the activity. ter upstream, lowering lake levels, or lowering groundwater tables;

An example would be the construction of a tem- Clearing: removing vegetation by digging or scraping;

porary road through a wetland that is needed


for a short-term project. Once the project is Flooding: raising water levels, either behind dams or by pumping or other-
completed, the road is removed. A performance wise channeling water into a wetland so that water levels are too high for

bond would need to be provided to the county wetland vegetation and animals to survive (i.e., converting a wetland to a lake

for an amount sufficient to cover the cost of re- or pond);

storing the wetland to pre-project conditions. Diverting or withholding sediment: trapping sediment through the construc-
tion of dams, channelization or other such projects that inhibit the regeneration

4. Reduction or Elimination of Impacts of wetlands in natural areas of deposition, such as deltas;

Over Time
Shading: placing pile supported platforms or bridges over wetlands, causing

Further impacts from draining or filling must be vegetation to die;

reduced or eliminated by managing the project Conducting activities in adjacent areas: disrupting the interactions between

in a manner that preserves remaining wetland wetlands and adjacent land areas, or indirectly impacting wetlands through

functions and values. The county must require activities at adjoining sites.

the applicants to implement Best Management


Practices (i.e. silt fences) to protect wetland
functions and values.
5. Replacement
Do’s
Rather than draining or filling wet-
Replacement wetlands must replace the func-
lands, seek compatible uses involv-
tions and values that are lost from a wetland
ing minimal wetland alteration, such
that is drained or filled. Replacement of wetland
as waterfowl production, fur harvest,
functions and values may occur at more than
hay and forage, wild rice production,
one location.
hunting and trapping leases, and se-
Conservation Level lective timber harvest.
In nonshoreland areas, seasonally flooded basin and Maintain wetlands and adjacent buf-
wet meadow wetland with a predominance of cedar or fer strips as open space.
tamarack and shoreland wetlands, nonisolated, or with
Encourage neighbors, developers,
surficial connection to a open water have impacts lim-
and state and local governments to
ited to 400 square feet. To the extent that a local shore-
protect the function and value of wet-
land management ordinance is more restrictive than 400
lands in your watershed.
square feet, the local shoreland ordinance applies.
Select upland rather than wetlands
sites for development projects and
avoid wetland alteration or degrada-
tion during project construction.
Impacts

Wetland Areas Boardwalk Harvesting Temporary Recreation


in Minnesota Road
This map illustrates the Don’ts
concentrated amount
of wetlands present in
Impacts

northern Minnesota when


compared to the amount
of wetlands throughout
the remainder of the state
emphasizing the need for
wetland conservation. Dredging Filling Construction Flooding

© St. Louis County, Minnesota Planning and Development 3


St. Louis County
Contact Information
Wetland Administration, Technical Assistance & Enforcement

Primary Contact for all Wetlands Issues


Contact these agencies FIRST if you suspect wetlands exist, to request After working with primary contacts, try these agencies for additional
a review, or obtain necessary permits for projects that may affect technical assistance.
wetlands.

St. Louis County Soil & Water Fond Du Lac U.S. Army State of Minnesota State of Minnesota
Planning and Development Conservation District Reservation Corps of Board of Water & Soil Department of Natural
North St. Louis Office of Water Protection Engineers Resources (BWSR) Resources (DNR)
Waters Division
or
South St. Louis

Local administers of the Minnesota Provides technical, educational, and Administers wetland regulations on all Regulates deposition of fill or dredge State Administration of the Minnesota Regulates Public Waters Permits for all
Wetland Conservation Act. Provides financial resources to land occupiers in lands on the Fond du Lac Reservation material in waters of the U.S. or adjacent Wetland Conservation Act work within public water wetlands of types
plan and site reviews for wetland order to implement practices and projects and provides technical and educational wetlands through section 404 of the Clean 3, 4 and 5 that are 10 or more acres in size
determinations, delineations, banking and that preserve, protect, and enhance water resources to help protect and enhance Water Act and section 10 of the Rivers or 2.5 acres in incorporated areas.
replacement. Coordinates enforcement quality and other natural resources. water quality. Water Act of 1899.
with DNR.

St. Louis County North St. Louis County Fond du Lac Reservation U.S. Army BWSR DNR Waters
Planning and Development Soil and Water Office of Water Protection Corps of Engineers 394 S. Lake Ave. Ste 403 Duluth Metro
Northland Office Bldg Conservation District (SWCD) 1720 Big Lake Rd. 1554 Hwy. 2, Ste 2 Duluth, MN 55802 1568 Hwy. 2
307 1st St. S. Northland Office Bldg Cloquet, MN 55720 Two Harbors, MN 55616 Phone: 218-723-4923 Two Harbors, MN 55616
Virginia, MN 55792 307 1st St. S., Ste 114 Phone: 218-878-8022 218-834-6630 Fax: 218-723-4794 Phone: 218-834-1440
Phone: 218-749-0633 Virginia, MN 55792 Fax: 218-879-4854 Fax: 218-834-6639
800-450-9777 Phone: 218-742-9505
Rest of St. Louis County
Fax: 218-749-0620 Fax: 218-742-9515 7979 Hwy. 37
Eveleth, MN 55734
www.nslswcd.org Phone: 218-744-7450
Fax: 218-744-7451
South St. Louis County
Soil and Water
Conservation District (SWCD)
215 N. 1st Ave. E.
Duluth, MN 55802
Phone: 218-723-4867
Fax: 218-723-4731

www.co.st-louis.mn.us www.southstlouisswcd.org www.mvp.usace.army.mil www.bwsr.state.mn.us www.dnr.state.mn.us

About the Guide


This guide is designed to give general information about
wetland regulations, identifying wetland areas, common
species, and impacts to wetland areas for residents,
contractors, and professionals associated with wetland
property.
St. Louis County has over 1,000 lakes, countless rivers
and streams, and hundreds of thousands of acres of
wetlands that provide recreational opportunities to both
residents and tourists.

Obtaining the Guide


Copies of this guide are available free to all residents. Publishing Information
Requests for a large number of guides should be directed This project was funded in part by the Coastal Zone Management Act, by
to St. Louis County Planning and Development and may NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resourced Management, in cooperation
be charged a minimal fee to cover printing and production with Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program.
costs. All requests should be directed to:
The Wetland Guide was developed and published by St. Louis County
218-725-5000 Planning and Development Department.
Toll Free Minnesota 800-450-9777
www.co.st-louis.mn.us
Information Updates
St. Louis County strives to maintain the latest information available. If any
St. Louis County
information in this guide is incorrect or any additional information is needed,
Planning and Development
please contact St. Louis County Planning and Development, 218-725-5000.
100 Missabe Building
227 West First Street © Copyright. All Rights Reserved
Duluth, MN 55802
Open Water Wetlands
Types 3, 4 & 5

Spring Summer Fall Winter


Revised 2-2010
WET-TYPE3-5 © St. Louis County, Minnesota Planning and Development
Open Water Wetlands

Function and Values What is a Wetland?


Open water wetlands are included as some of the most desirable of all wet- Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems
lands for water birds and furbearers, and they can also provide spawning and in the world and a source of support for all of the major
nursery habitat for some fish species thereby replenishing fish populations in groups of biological organisms.
adjacent lakes. Birds that use open water wetlands for breeding and feeding By most standards, a wetland has mostly wet soil, is satu-
include ducks, geese, rails, and songbirds. Submergent plants and aquatic rated with water either above or just below the surface,
invertebrates provide food for waterfowl, which is especially important during and is covered with plants that have adapted to wet condi-
migration. Raptors, such as the bald eagle, also frequent these wetlands. tions. A wetland is a term to describe a wide variety of wet
Furbearers inhabiting marshes include muskrat and mink. Excellent winter environments from a slight depression, which holds water
habitat can be provided for upland wildlife, including deer. after spring runoff, to a forested swamp with peat soils.
In addition to providing fish and wildlife habitat, marshes have other func- The identification of wetlands can be difficult and it may be
tions, including floodwater retention, protection of shorelines from erosion, necessary for the landowner to hire a consultant to identify
aesthetics, and water quality functions involving the trapping of sediments wetland boundaries. A consultant can also help with wet-
and assimilation of nutrients. land replacement and permitting requirements.

Differences
The primary difference between the three open water wet-
lands described in this guide is in the depth of standing
water and duration of the soil saturation. Shallow marshes
are in 6 inches of water during the growing season while
Water Flood Erosion deep marshes are in 6 inches to 3 or more feet of water
Habitat during the growing season. Shallow open water wetlands
Quality Control Control have up to 6.6 feet of water and are rarely, if ever, drawn
down preventing emergent aquatic vegetation to become
established.
Vegetation
Open water wetland are dominated by nonforested vegetation that can tolorate their Sequencing
roots and lower stem submergend in water over a period of time. Familiarity with com-
mon vegetation found in these wetlands is a useful wetland determination tool. Brief Prior to any draining, filling or excavating in a wetland,
descriptions of vegetation types and other wetland plant indicators are listed below: proposed impacts to nonexempt wetlands must undergo
a process known as sequencing. Sequencing is a step-
Submergent and floating – vegetation requiring complete immersion, and are rooted
by-step process that must be followed for clearly defined
in the bottom or free floating with majority of the leaves floating on the surface;
projects that intend to impact wetlands and reviewed to as-
Emergent – rooted vegetation where most of the plant material is above the water sur- sess the efforts made by the applicant to follow these prin-
face; water levels must fluctuate for proper growth and seed germination (usually during ciples: avoidance, minimization, reduction or elimination of
drawdown in late summer);
impacts over time, and replacement. Therefore, a Local
Herbs and forbs – broad-leaved plants that typically grow either in the shallow water Government Unit (LGU) may not consider or approve a
edges of wetlands, or ponds, and streams; wetland replacement plan unless the LGU finds that the
Shrub – woody vegetation that is less than 20 feet tall with single or multiple stems; applicant has demonstrated the activity impacting the wet-
species can be broad-leaved deciduous, or broad-leaved evergreen; lands has complied with all of the following principals in
Tree – woody vegetation that dominate forested wetlands and is greater than 20 feet ascending order:
tall.
1. Avoiding Impacts
Open water wetlands are generally dominated by acquatic and submergent vegetation,
and are not populated by shrubs or trees. The first priority is to avoid impact to a wetland. If a
project can be redesigned or relocated to eliminate
any wetland impact, you must select this option.
2. Minimization
Plants

If St. Louis County determines that wetland im-


pacts are unavoidable, you must then demonstrate
that the project minimizes wetland impacts to the
greatest extent possible. The county will determine
Wild Water Wild Lake
if sufficient effort was made to minimize impacts by
Calla Lily Rice Sedge
considering:
• The purpose of the project
• Size requirements of the project
• Location
Plants

• Sensitivity of the site design to the natural fea-


tures of the site, including topography, hydrol-
ogy, and existing vegetation
• The function and value of the wetlands on the
Hemlock Cattail Bulrush Burreed site

2 © St. Louis County, Minnesota Planning and Development


Open Water Wetlands

• Applicants efforts to show alternatives to Typical Impacts


modify the size and scope of the project Filling: adding any material to change the bottom level of a wetland;

3. Rectification Draining: removing the water from a wetland by ditching, tilling, pumping, or

There may be times that a wetland impact is other such techniques;

not possible to avoid but the impact either is Excavating: dredging and removing soil and vegetation from a wetland;

temporary or results in no net loss of wetlands. Diverting water: preventing the flow of water into a wetland by removing wa-
Temporary impacts may be approved by the ter upstream, lowering lake levels, or lowering groundwater tables;

county if the activity is completed and the physi-


Clearing: removing vegetation by digging or scraping;

cal characteristics of the wetland are restored


within six months from the start of the activity. Flooding: raising water levels, either behind dams or by pumping or other-
An example would be the construction of a tem- wise channeling water into a wetland so that water levels are too high for

porary road through a wetland that is needed wetland vegetation and animals to survive (i.e., converting a wetland to a lake

for a short term project. Once the project is or pond);

completed, the road is removed. A performance Diverting or withholding sediment: trapping sediment through the construc-
bond would need to be provided to the county tion of dams, channelization or other such projects that inhibit the regeneration

for an amount sufficient to cover the cost of re- of wetlands in natural areas of deposition, such as deltas;

storing the wetland to pre-project conditions. Shading: placing pile supported platforms or bridges over wetlands, causing

4. Reduction or Elimination of Impacts vegetation to die;

Over Time Conducting activities in adjacent areas: disrupting the interactions between

wetlands and adjacent land areas, or indirectly impacting wetlands through

Further impacts from draining or filling must be


activities at adjoining sites.

reduced or eliminated by managing the project


in a manner that preserves remaining wetland
functions and values. The county must require
the applicants to implement Best Management Do’s
Practices (i.e. silt fences) to protect wetland
Rather than draining or filling wet-
functions and values.
lands, seek compatible uses involv-
5. Replacement ing minimal wetland alteration, such
as waterfowl production, fur harvest,
Replacement wetlands must replace the func-
hay and forage, wild rice production,
tions and values that are lost from a wetland
hunting and trapping leases, and se-
that is drained or filled. Replacement of wetland
lective timber harvest.
functions and values may occur at more than
one location. Maintain wetlands and adjacent buf-
fer strips as open space.
Conservation Level
In nonshoreland areas, shallow and deep marshes, and Encourage neighbors, developers,
shallow open water and lakes wetland with a predomi- and state and local governments to
nance of cedar or tamarack and shoreland wetlands, protect the function and value of wet-
nonisolated, or with surficial connection to a open water lands in your watershed.
have impacts limited to 400 square feet. To the extent Select upland rather than wetlands
that a local shoreland management ordinance is more sites for development projects and
restrictive than 400 square feet, the local shoreland or- avoid wetland alteration or degrada-
dinance applies. tion during project construction.
Impacts

Wetland Areas Boardwalk Harvesting Temporary Recreation


Road
in Minnesota
This map illustrates the Don’ts
concentrated amount
of wetlands present in
northern Minnesota when
Impacts

compared to the amount


of wetlands throughout
the remainder of the state
emphasizing the need for
wetland conservation. Dredging Filling Construction Flooding

© St. Louis County, Minnesota Planning and Development 3


St. Louis County
Contact Information
Wetland Administration, Technical Assistance & Enforcement

Primary Contact for all Wetlands Issues


Contact these agencies FIRST if you suspect wetlands exist, to request After working with primary contacts, try these agencies for additional
a review, or obtain necessary permits for projects that may affect technical assistance.
wetlands.

St. Louis County Soil & Water Fond Du Lac U.S. Army State of Minnesota State of Minnesota
Planning and Development Conservation District Reservation Corps of Board of Water & Soil Department of Natural
North St. Louis Office of Water Protection Engineers Resources (BWSR) Resources (DNR)
Waters Division
or
South St. Louis

Local administers of the Minnesota Provides technical, educational, and Administers wetland regulations on all Regulates deposition of fill or dredge State Administration of the Minnesota Regulates Public Waters Permits for all
Wetland Conservation Act. Provides financial resources to land occupiers in lands on the Fond du Lac Reservation material in waters of the U.S. or adjacent Wetland Conservation Act work within public water wetlands of types
plan and site reviews for wetland order to implement practices and projects and provides technical and educational wetlands through section 404 of the Clean 3, 4 and 5 that are 10 or more acres in size
determinations, delineations, banking and that preserve, protect, and enhance water resources to help protect and enhance Water Act and section 10 of the Rivers or 2.5 acres in incorporated areas.
replacement. Coordinates enforcement quality and other natural resources. water quality. Water Act of 1899.
with DNR.

St. Louis County North St. Louis County Fond du Lac Reservation U.S. Army BWSR DNR Waters
Planning and Development Soil and Water Office of Water Protection Corps of Engineers 394 S. Lake Ave. Ste 403 Duluth Metro
Northland Office Bldg Conservation District (SWCD) 1720 Big Lake Rd. 1554 Hwy. 2, Ste 2 Duluth, MN 55802 1568 Hwy. 2
307 1st St. S. Northland Office Bldg Cloquet, MN 55720 Two Harbors, MN 55616 Phone: 218-723-4923 Two Harbors, MN 55616
Virginia, MN 55792 307 1st St. S., Ste 114 Phone: 218-878-8022 218-834-6630 Fax: 218-723-4794 Phone: 218-834-1440
Phone: 218-749-0633 Virginia, MN 55792 Fax: 218-879-4854 Fax: 218-834-6639
800-450-9777 Phone: 218-742-9505
Rest of St. Louis County
Fax: 218-749-0620 Fax: 218-742-9515 7979 Hwy. 37
Eveleth, MN 55734
www.nslswcd.org Phone: 218-744-7450
Fax: 218-744-7451
South St. Louis County
Soil and Water
Conservation District (SWCD)
215 N. 1st Ave. E.
Duluth, MN 55802
Phone: 218-723-4867
Fax: 218-723-4731

www.co.st-louis.mn.us www.southstlouisswcd.org www.mvp.usace.army.mil www.bwsr.state.mn.us www.dnr.state.mn.us

About the Guide


This guide is designed to give general information about
wetland regulations, identifying wetland areas, common
species, and impacts to wetland areas for residents,
contractors, and professionals associated with wetland
property.
St. Louis County has over 1,000 lakes, countless rivers
and streams, and hundreds of thousands of acres of
wetlands that provide recreational opportunities to both
residents and tourists.

Obtaining the Guide


Copies of this guide are available free to all residents. Publishing Information
Requests for a large number of guides should be directed This project was funded in part by the Coastal Zone Management Act, by
to St. Louis County Planning and Development and may NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resourced Management, in cooperation
be charged a minimal fee to cover printing and production with Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program.
costs. All requests should be directed to:
The Wetland Guide was developed and published by St. Louis County
218-725-5000 Planning and Development Department.
Toll Free Minnesota 800-450-9777
www.co.st-louis.mn.us
Information Updates
St. Louis County strives to maintain the latest information available. If any
St. Louis County
information in this guide is incorrect or any additional information is needed,
Planning and Development
please contact St. Louis County Planning and Development, 218-725-5000.
100 Missabe Building
227 West First Street © Copyright. All Rights Reserved
Duluth, MN 55802
Shrub Carr Wetlands
Type 66
Types

Spring Summer Fall Winter


Revised 2-2010
WET-TYPE6 © St. Louis County, Minnesota Planning and Development
Shrub Carr Wetlands

Function and Values What is a Wetland?


Shrub Carr wetlands are important because of the biological and chemical Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems
processes that occur within them such as nutrient assimilation and ground in the world and a source of support for all of the major
water recharge/discharge. These wetlands also perform the function of flood groups of biological organisms.
control reduction, water table maintenance, and reducing stream sedimenta- By most standards, a wetland has mostly wet soil, is satu-
tion. rated with water either above or just below the surface and
Important breeding habitat for such birds as mallard, blue-winged teal, is covered with plants that have adapted to wet conditions.
marsh hawk, ring-necked pheasant, common snipe, willow flycatcher, short- A wetland is a term to describe a wide variety of wet envi-
billed marsh wren, veery, yellow warbler, common yellowthroat, red-winged ronments from a slight depression, which holds water after
blackbird, swamp sparrow and song sparrow are provided by shrub carr wet- spring runoff, to a forested swamp with peat soils.
lands. White-tailed deer often choose shrub carr wetlands to graze with their The identification of wetlands can be difficult and it may be
offspring on the abundant ground cover. necessary for the landowner to hire a consultant to identify
wetland boundaries. A consultant can also help with wet-
land replacement and permitting requirements.

Characteristics
Shrub carr wetlands occur on organic soils (peat/muck) as
well as on the mineral soils of a floodplain. These wetlands
are waterlogged much of the growing season and often
Water Flood Erosion covered with as much as six inches of water. The shrub
Habitat carr soil is typically saturated to the surface and may have
Quality Control Control as much as six inches of standing water after spring snow-
melt and heavy rainfall events.

Vegetation Sequencing
Shrub carr wetlands plant communities are dominated by tall, deciduous Prior to any draining, filling or excavating in a wetland,
shrubs less than 20 feet in height and with a width of less than 6 inches such proposed impacts to nonexempt wetlands must undergo
as willows and red-osier dogwood. The ground layer generally includes ferns, a process known as sequencing. Sequencing is a step-
sedges, and grasses. by-step process that must be followed for clearly defined
projects that intend to impact wetlands and reviewed to as-
Submergent and floating – vegetation requiring complete immersion, and sess the efforts made by the applicant to follow these prin-
are rooted in the bottom or free floating with majority of the leaves floating on ciples: avoidance, minimization, reduction or elimination of
the surface are found in this wetland; impacts over time, and replacement. Therefore, a Local
Emergent – rooted vegetation where most of the plant material is above the Government Unit (LGU) may not consider or approve a
water surface; water levels must fluctuate for proper growth and seed germi- wetland replacement plan unless the LGU finds that the
nation (usually during drawdown in late summer); applicant has demonstrated the activity impacting the wet-
lands has complied with all of the following principals in
Herbs and forbs – broad-leaved plants that typically grow either in the shal-
ascending order:
low water edges of wetlands, or ponds, and streams;
Shrub – woody vegetation that is less than 20 feet tall with single or multiple 1. Avoiding Impacts
stems; species can be broad-leaved deciduous, or broad-leaved evergreen; The first priority is to avoid impact to a wetland. If a
Tree – woody vegetation that dominates forested wetlands and is greater than project can be redesigned or relocated to eliminate
20 feet tall. any wetland impact, you must select this option.
2. Minimization
If St. Louis County determines that wetland im
pacts are unavoidable, you must then demonstrate
Shrubs

that the project minimizes wetland impacts to the


greatest extent possible. The county will determine
if sufficient effort was made to minimize impacts by
considering:
Silver Red-osier • The purpose of the project
Chokeberry Alder
Willow Dogwood • Size requirements of the project
• Location
• Sensitivity of the site design to the natural fea-
tures of the site, including topography, hydrol-
Plants

ogy, and existing vegetation


• The function and value of the wetlands on the
site
Shield Yellow Reed Canary Marsh • Applicants efforts to show alternatives to modify
Fern Sedge Grass Milkweed the size and scope of the project

2 © St. Louis County, Minnesota Planning and Development


Shrub Carr Wetlands

3. Rectification Typical Impacts


There may be times that a wetland impact is Filling: adding any material to change the bottom level of a wetland;

not possible to avoid, but the impact either is


Draining: removing the water from a wetland by ditching, tilling, pumping, or

temporary or results in no net loss of wetlands.


other such techniques;

Temporary impacts may be approved by the


county if the activity is completed and the physi- Excavating: dredging and removing soil and vegetation from a wetland;

cal characteristics of the wetland are restored Diverting water: preventing the flow of water into a wetland by removing wa-
within six months from the start of the activity. ter upstream, lowering lake levels, or lowering groundwater tables;

An example would be the construction of a tem- Clearing: removing vegetation by digging or scraping;

porary road through a wetland that is needed


for a short term project. Once the project is Flooding: raising water levels, either behind dams or by pumping or other-
completed, the road is removed. A performance wise channeling water into a wetland so that water levels are too high for

bond would need to be provided to the county wetland vegetation and animals to survive (i.e., converting a wetland to a lake

for an amount sufficient to cover the cost of re- or pond);

storing the wetland to pre-project conditions. Diverting or withholding sediment: trapping sediment through the construc-
tion of dams, channelization or other such projects that inhibit the regeneration

4. Reduction or Elimination of Impacts of wetlands in natural areas of deposition, such as deltas;

Over Time
Shading: placing pile supported platforms or bridges over wetlands, causing

Further impacts from draining or filling must be vegetation to die;

reduced or eliminated by managing the project Conducting activities in adjacent areas: disrupting the interactions between

in a manner that preserves remaining wetland wetlands and adjacent land areas, or indirectly impacting wetlands through

functions and values. The county must require activities at adjoining sites.

the applicants to implement Best Management


Practices (i.e. silt fences) to protect wetland
functions and values.
5. Replacement
Do’s
Rather than draining or filling wet-
Replacement wetlands must replace the func-
lands, seek compatible uses involv-
tions and values that are lost from a wetland
ing minimal wetland alteration, such
that is drained or filled. Replacement of wetland
as waterfowl production, fur harvest,
functions and values may occur at more than
hay and forage, wild rice production,
one location.
hunting and trapping leases, and se-
Conservation Level lective timber harvest.
In nonshoreland areas, shrub carr wetlands are in the Maintain wetlands and adjacent buf-
lowest protection level and have impacts limited to 10,000 fer strips as open space.
square feet. To the extent that a local shoreland manage-
Encourage neighbors, developers,
ment ordinance is more restrictive than 10,000 square
and state and local governments to
feet, the local shoreland ordinance applies. In shoreland
protect the function and value of wet-
areas, the impact is limited to 1,000 square feet.
lands in your watershed.
Select upland rather than wetlands
sites for development projects and
avoid wetland alteration or degrada-
tion during project construction.
Impacts

Wetland Areas Boardwalk Harvesting Temporary Recreation


Road
in Minnesota
This map illustrates the Don’ts
concentrated amount
of wetlands present in
northern Minnesota when
Impacts

compared to the amount


of wetlands throughout
the remainder of the state
emphasizing the need for
wetland conservation. Dredging Filling Construction Flooding

© St. Louis County, Minnesota Planning and Development 3


St. Louis County
Contact Information
Wetland Administration, Technical Assistance & Enforcement

Primary Contact for all Wetlands Issues


Contact these agencies FIRST if you suspect wetlands exist, to request After working with primary contacts, try these agencies for additional
a review, or obtain necessary permits for projects that may affect technical assistance.
wetlands.

St. Louis County Soil & Water Fond Du Lac U.S. Army State of Minnesota State of Minnesota
Planning and Development Conservation District Reservation Corps of Board of Water & Soil Department of Natural
North St. Louis Office of Water Protection Engineers Resources (BWSR) Resources (DNR)
Waters Division
or
South St. Louis

Local administers of the Minnesota Provides technical, educational, and Administers wetland regulations on all Regulates deposition of fill or dredge State Administration of the Minnesota Regulates Public Waters Permits for all
Wetland Conservation Act. Provides financial resources to land occupiers in lands on the Fond du Lac Reservation material in waters of the U.S. or adjacent Wetland Conservation Act work within public water wetlands of types
plan and site reviews for wetland order to implement practices and projects and provides technical and educational wetlands through section 404 of the Clean 3, 4 and 5 that are 10 or more acres in size
determinations, delineations, banking and that preserve, protect, and enhance water resources to help protect and enhance Water Act and section 10 of the Rivers or 2.5 acres in incorporated areas.
replacement. Coordinates enforcement quality and other natural resources. water quality. Water Act of 1899.
with DNR.

St. Louis County North St. Louis County Fond du Lac Reservation U.S. Army BWSR DNR Waters
Planning and Development Soil and Water Office of Water Protection Corps of Engineers 394 S. Lake Ave. Ste 403 Duluth Metro
Northland Office Bldg Conservation District (SWCD) 1720 Big Lake Rd. 1554 Hwy. 2, Ste 2 Duluth, MN 55802 1568 Hwy. 2
307 1st St. S. Northland Office Bldg Cloquet, MN 55720 Two Harbors, MN 55616 Phone: 218-723-4923 Two Harbors, MN 55616
Virginia, MN 55792 307 1st St. S., Ste 114 Phone: 218-878-8022 218-834-6630 Fax: 218-723-4794 Phone: 218-834-1440
Phone: 218-749-0633 Virginia, MN 55792 Fax: 218-879-4854 Fax: 218-834-6639
800-450-9777 Phone: 218-742-9505
Rest of St. Louis County
Fax: 218-749-0620 Fax: 218-742-9515 7979 Hwy. 37
Eveleth, MN 55734
www.nslswcd.org Phone: 218-744-7450
Fax: 218-744-7451
South St. Louis County
Soil and Water
Conservation District (SWCD)
215 N. 1st Ave. E.
Duluth, MN 55802
Phone: 218-723-4867
Fax: 218-723-4731

www.co.st-louis.mn.us www.southstlouisswcd.org www.mvp.usace.army.mil www.bwsr.state.mn.us www.dnr.state.mn.us

About the Guide


This guide is designed to give general information about
wetland regulations, identifying wetland areas, common
species, and impacts to wetland areas for residents,
contractors, and professionals associated with wetland
property.
St. Louis County has over 1,000 lakes, countless rivers
and streams, and hundreds of thousands of acres of
wetlands that provide recreational opportunities to both
residents and tourists.

Obtaining the Guide


Copies of this guide are available free to all residents. Publishing Information
Requests for a large number of guides should be directed This project was funded in part by the Coastal Zone Management Act, by
to St. Louis County Planning and Development and may NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resourced Management, in cooperation
be charged a minimal fee to cover printing and production with Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program.
costs. All requests should be directed to:
The Wetland Guide was developed and published by St. Louis County
218-725-5000 Planning and Development Department.
Toll Free Minnesota 800-450-9777
www.co.st-louis.mn.us
Information Updates
St. Louis County strives to maintain the latest information available. If any
St. Louis County
information in this guide is incorrect or any additional information is needed,
Planning and Development
please contact St. Louis County Planning and Development, 218-725-5000.
100 Missabe Building
227 West First Street © Copyright. All Rights Reserved
Duluth, MN 55802
Hardwood-Coniferous
Swamp Wetlands
Types 7

Spring Summer Fall Winter


Revised 2-2010
WET-TYPE7 © St. Louis County, Minnesota Planning and Development
Hardwood-Coniferous Swamp Wetlands

Function and Values What is a Wetland?


Hardwood-coniferous swamp wetlands support diverse plant and animal Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems
species because they serve as migration corridors. Wildlife species include in the world and a source of support for all of the major
wood ducks, barred owls, herons, egrets and a variety of songbirds. Pools groups of biological organisms.
within the forest may provide habitat for amphibians and invertebrates. Ad- By most standards, a wetland has mostly wet soil, is satu-
joining areas of open sand may provide habitat for reptiles. During high water rated with water either above or just below the surface,
periods, these forests even provide habitat for fish. Wooded swamps are ex- and is covered with plants that have adapted to wet condi-
tremely important for floodwater storage. Swamp wetlands are important for tions. A wetland is a term to describe a wide variety of wet
stormwater and floodwater retention. Diking of wooded swamps to allow de- environments from a slight depression, which holds water
velopment or agricultural use can increase both upstream and downstream after spring runoff, to a forested swamp with peat soils.
flooding.
The Identification of wetlands can be difficult and it may be
necessary for the landowner to hire a consultant to identify
wetland boundaries. A consultant can also help with wet-
land replacement and permitting requirements.

Characteristics
Hardwood-coniferous swamp wetlands are forested wet-
lands dominated by mature conifers and/or lowland hard-
Water Flood Erosion wood trees. They are usually associated with ancient lake
Habitat basins and former riverine oxbows. These swamps are
Quality Control Control
distinguished by whether the dominant trees are decidu-
ous, hardwood or coniferous.
The soil in hardwood-coniferous swamp wetlands is water-
Vegetation logged at least to within a few inches of the surface during
Hardwood-coniferous swamp wetland vegetation includes tamarack, white ce- the growing season and is often covered with as much
dar, black spruce, balsam fir, red maple, and black ash. Northern evergreen as one foot of water. These wetlands occur mostly along
swamps usually have a thick ground covering of mosses. Deciduous swamps sluggish streams, on old riverine oxbows, on floodplains,
frequently support beds of duckweeds, smartweeds, and other herbs. on flat uplands, and in very shallow lake basins.
Submergent and floating – vegetation requiring complete immersion, and are rooted
Sequencing
in the bottom or free floating with majority of the leaves floating on the surface;

Prior to any draining, filling or excavating in a wetland,


Emergent – rooted vegetation where most of the plant material is above the water sur-
proposed impacts to nonexempt wetlands must undergo
face; water levels must fluctuate for proper growth and seed germination (usually during

drawdown in late summer);


a process known as sequencing. Sequencing is a step-
by-step process that must be followed for clearly defined
Herbs and forbs – broad-leaved plants that typically grow either in the shallow water
projects that intend to impact wetlands and reviewed to as-
edges of wetlands, or ponds, and streams;

sess the efforts made by the applicant to follow these prin-


Shrub – woody vegetation that is less than 20 feet tall with single or multiple stems;
ciples: avoidance, minimization, reduction or elimination of
species can be broad-leaved deciduous, or broad-leaved evergreen;
impacts over time, and replacement. Therefore, a Local
Tree – woody vegetation that dominates forested wetlands and is greater than 20 feet
Government Unit (LGU) may not consider or approve a
tall.
wetland replacement plan unless the LGU finds that the
Hardwood-coniferous swamp wetlands are vegetatively productive because nutrients
applicant has demonstrated the activity impacting the wet-
are periodically added to the system by flooding.
lands has complied with all of the following principals in
ascending order:
1. Avoiding Impacts
The first priority is to avoid impact to a wetland. If a
project can be redesigned or relocated to eliminate
Trees

any wetland impact, you must select this option.


2. Minimization
Tamarack White Black Black If St. Louis County determines that wetland im
Cedar Spruce Ash pacts are unavoidable, you must then demonstrate
that the project minimizes wetland impacts to the
greatest extent possible. The county will determine
if sufficient effort was made to minimize impacts by
considering:
Plants

• The purpose of the project


• Size requirements of the project
• Location
Lake Ostrich Marsh
Jewelweed • Sensitivity of the site design to the natural fea-
Sedge Fern Marigold tures of the site, including topography, hydrol-
ogy, and existing vegetation

2 © St. Louis County, Minnesota Planning and Development


Hardwood-Coniferous Swamp Wetlands

• The function and value of the wetlands on Typical Impacts


the site
Filling: adding any material to change the bottom level of a wetland;

• Applicants efforts to show alternatives to


Draining: removing the water from a wetland by ditching, tilling, pumping, or

modify the size and scope of the project


other such techniques;

3. Rectification Excavating: dredging and removing soil and vegetation from a wetland;

There may be times that a wetland impact is Diverting water: preventing the flow of water into a wetland by removing wa-
not possible to avoid, but the impact either is ter upstream, lowering lake levels, or lowering groundwater tables;

temporary or results in no net loss of wetlands.


Clearing: removing vegetation by digging or scraping;

Temporary impacts may be approved by the


county if the activity is completed and the physi- Flooding: raising water levels, either behind dams or by pumping or other-
cal characteristics of the wetland are restored wise channeling water into a wetland so that water levels are too high for

within six months from the start of the activity. wetland vegetation and animals to survive (i.e., converting a wetland to a lake

An example would be the construction of a tem- or pond);

porary road through a wetland that is needed Diverting or withholding sediment: trapping sediment through the construc-
for a short term project. Once the project is tion of dams, channelization or other such projects that inhibit the regeneration

completed, the road is removed. A performance of wetlands in natural areas of deposition, such as deltas;

bond would need to be provided to the county Shading: placing pile supported platforms or bridges over wetlands, causing

for an amount sufficient to cover the cost of re- vegetation to die;

storing the wetland to pre-project conditions.


Conducting activities in adjacent areas: disrupting the interactions between

4. Reduction or Elimination of Impacts wetlands and adjacent land areas, or indirectly impacting wetlands through

Over Time activities at adjoining sites.

Further impacts from draining or filling must be


reduced or eliminated by managing the project
in a manner that preserves remaining wetland Do’s
functions and values. The county must require
Rather than draining or filling wet-
the applicants to implement Best Management
lands, seek compatible uses involv-
Practices (i.e. silt fences) to protect wetland
ing minimal wetland alteration, such
functions and values.
as waterfowl production, fur harvest,
5. Replacement hay and forage, wild rice production,
hunting and trapping leases, and se-
Replacement wetlands must replace the func-
lective timber harvest.
tions and values that are lost from a wetland
that is drained or filled. Replacement of wetland Maintain wetlands and adjacent buf-
functions and values may occur at more than fer strips as open space.
one location. Encourage neighbors, developers,
Conservation Level and state and local governments to
protect the function and value of wet-
In nonshoreland areas, hardwood-coniferous swamp
lands in your watershed.
wetlands are in the lowest protection level and have im-
pacts limited to 10,000 square feet. To the extent that a Select upland rather than wetlands
local shoreland management ordinance is more restric- sites for development projects and
tive than 10,000 square feet, the local shoreland ordi- avoid wetland alteration or degrada-
nance applies. In shoreland areas, the impact is limited tion during project construction.
to 1,000 square feet.
Impacts

Wetland Areas Boardwalk Harvesting Temporary Recreation


Road
in Minnesota
This map illustrates the Don’ts
concentrated amount
of wetlands present in
northern Minnesota when
Impacts

compared to the amount


of wetlands throughout
the remainder of the state
emphasizing the need for
wetland conservation. Dredging Filling Construction Flooding

© St. Louis County, Minnesota Planning and Development 3


St. Louis County
Contact Information
Wetland Administration, Technical Assistance & Enforcement

Primary Contact for all Wetlands Issues


Contact these agencies FIRST if you suspect wetlands exist, to request After working with primary contacts, try these agencies for additional
a review, or obtain necessary permits for projects that may affect technical assistance.
wetlands.

St. Louis County Soil & Water Fond Du Lac U.S. Army State of Minnesota State of Minnesota
Planning and Development Conservation District Reservation Corps of Board of Water & Soil Department of Natural
North St. Louis Office of Water Protection Engineers Resources (BWSR) Resources (DNR)
Waters Division
or
South St. Louis

Local administers of the Minnesota Provides technical, educational, and Administers wetland regulations on all Regulates deposition of fill or dredge State Administration of the Minnesota Regulates Public Waters Permits for all
Wetland Conservation Act. Provides financial resources to land occupiers in lands on the Fond du Lac Reservation material in waters of the U.S. or adjacent Wetland Conservation Act work within public water wetlands of types
plan and site reviews for wetland order to implement practices and projects and provides technical and educational wetlands through section 404 of the Clean 3, 4 and 5 that are 10 or more acres in size
determinations, delineations, banking and that preserve, protect, and enhance water resources to help protect and enhance Water Act and section 10 of the Rivers or 2.5 acres in incorporated areas.
replacement. Coordinates enforcement quality and other natural resources. water quality. Water Act of 1899.
with DNR.

St. Louis County North St. Louis County Fond du Lac Reservation U.S. Army BWSR DNR Waters
Planning and Development Soil and Water Office of Water Protection Corps of Engineers 394 S. Lake Ave. Ste 403 Duluth Metro
Northland Office Bldg Conservation District (SWCD) 1720 Big Lake Rd. 1554 Hwy. 2, Ste 2 Duluth, MN 55802 1568 Hwy. 2
307 1st St. S. Northland Office Bldg Cloquet, MN 55720 Two Harbors, MN 55616 Phone: 218-723-4923 Two Harbors, MN 55616
Virginia, MN 55792 307 1st St. S., Ste 114 Phone: 218-878-8022 218-834-6630 Fax: 218-723-4794 Phone: 218-834-1440
Phone: 218-749-0633 Virginia, MN 55792 Fax: 218-879-4854 Fax: 218-834-6639
800-450-9777 Phone: 218-742-9505
Rest of St. Louis County
Fax: 218-749-0620 Fax: 218-742-9515 7979 Hwy. 37
Eveleth, MN 55734
www.nslswcd.org Phone: 218-744-7450
Fax: 218-744-7451
South St. Louis County
Soil and Water
Conservation District (SWCD)
215 N. 1st Ave. E.
Duluth, MN 55802
Phone: 218-723-4867
Fax: 218-723-4731

www.co.st-louis.mn.us www.southstlouisswcd.org www.mvp.usace.army.mil www.bwsr.state.mn.us www.dnr.state.mn.us

About the Guide


This guide is designed to give general information about
wetland regulations, identifying wetland areas, common
species, and impacts to wetland areas for residents,
contractors, and professionals associated with wetland
property.
St. Louis County has over 1,000 lakes, countless rivers
and streams, and hundreds of thousands of acres of
wetlands that provide recreational opportunities to both
residents and tourists.

Obtaining the Guide


Copies of this guide are available free to all residents. Publishing Information
Requests for a large number of guides should be directed This project was funded in part by the Coastal Zone Management Act, by
to St. Louis County Planning and Development and may NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resourced Management, in cooperation
be charged a minimal fee to cover printing and production with Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program.
costs. All requests should be directed to:
The Wetland Guide was developed and published by St. Louis County
218-725-5000 Planning and Development Department.
Toll Free Minnesota 800-450-9777
www.co.st-louis.mn.us
Information Updates
St. Louis County strives to maintain the latest information available. If any
St. Louis County
information in this guide is incorrect or any additional information is needed,
Planning and Development
please contact St. Louis County Planning and Development, 218-725-5000.
100 Missabe Building
227 West First Street © Copyright. All Rights Reserved
Duluth, MN 55802
Open-Coniferous
Bog Wetlands
Type
Type8 8

Spring Summer Fall Winter


Revised 2-2010
WET-TYPE8 © St. Louis County, Minnesota Planning and Development
Open-Coniferous Bog Wetlands

Function and Values What is a Wetland?


Open-coniferous bog wetlands provide important habitat for such wildlife Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems
as moose, deer, black bear, beaver, lynx, fishers, showshoe hare, and ot- in the world and a source of support for all of the major
ter because the land is generally undisturbed. Migratory birds use bogs on groups of biological organisms.
their flight paths to breed, nest and feed. Bog wetlands are often valuable as By most standards, a wetland has mostly wet soil, is satu-
reservoirs for streams (especially trout streams) and habitat for many unique rated with water either above or just below the surface,
plants. and is covered with plants that have adapted to wet condi-
Other uses of bogs include harvesting of sphagnum moss, aesthetics, and tions. A wetland is a term to describe a wide variety of wet
conversion to commercial cranberry and wild rice production. environments from a slight depression, which holds water
after spring runoff, to a forested swamp with peat soils.
The identification of wetlands can be difficult and it may be
necessary for the landowner to hire a consultant to identify
wetland boundaries. A consultant can also help with wet-
land replacement and permitting requirements.

Characteristics
Bogs are one of the most distinctive kinds of wetlands,
Water Flood Erosion and are characterized by a growth of evergreen trees and
Habitat
Quality Control Control shrubs and a floor covered by a thick carpet of sphagnum
moss. Bogs form in very wet places. Some have consider-
able amounts of open water surrounded by floating boggy
vegetation; in others, vegetation may have completely
filled a lake.
Vegetation
Bog wetlands soil is usually waterlogged and supports
Open bog vegetation is woody or herbaceous or both. Typical plants are heath shrubs,
a spongy covering of mosses. This type occurs mostly
sphagnum moss, and sedges. In the north, leatherleaf, labrador tea, cranberries, carex,
and cottongrass are often present. Although scattered, black spruce and tamarack also
in shallow basins, on flat uplands, and along sluggish
occur in open bog wetlands, but their growth is stunted. In coniferous bog wetlands, the streams.
plant communities are similar except with mature trees of black spruce and tamarack
dominating the area. Sequencing
Submergent and floating – vegetation requiring complete immersion, and are rooted Prior to any draining, filling or excavating in a wetland,
in the bottom or free floating with majority of the leaves floating on the surface; proposed impacts to nonexempt wetlands must undergo
Emergent – rooted vegetation where most of the plant material is above the water sur-
a process known as sequencing. Sequencing is a step-
face; water levels must fluctuate for proper growth and seed germination (usually during by-step process that must be followed for clearly defined
drawdown in late summer); projects that intend to impact wetlands and reviewed to as-
sess the efforts made by the applicant to follow these prin-
Herbs and forbs – broad-leaved plants that typically grow either in the shallow water
edges of wetlands, or ponds, and streams; ciples: avoidance, minimization, reduction or elimination of
impacts over time, and replacement. Therefore, a Local
Shrub – woody vegetation that is less than 20 feet tall with single or multiple stems; Government Unit (LGU) may not consider or approve a
species can be broad-leaved deciduous, or broad-leaved evergreen;
wetland replacement plan unless the LGU finds that the
Tree – woody vegetation that dominate forested wetlands and is greater than 20 feet applicant has demonstrated the activity impacting the wet-
tall. lands has complied with all of the following principals in
ascending order:
1. Avoiding Impacts
The first priority is to avoid impact to a wetland. If a
project can be redesigned or relocated to eliminate
Trees

any wetland impact, you must select this option.


2. Minimization
If St. Louis County determines that wetland im-
Black Swamp pacts are unavoidable, you must then demonstrate
Tamarack
Spruce Birch that the project minimizes wetland impacts to the
greatest extent possible. The county will determine
if sufficient effort was made to minimize impacts by
considering:
• The purpose of the project
Plants

• Size requirements of the project


• Location
• Sensitivity of the site design to the natural fea-
Sphagnum Bog Labrador tures of the site, including topography, hydrol-
Leatherleaf
Moss Sedge Tea ogy, and existing vegetation

2 © St. Louis County, Minnesota Planning and Development


Open-Coniferous Bog Wetlands

• The function and value of the wetlands on the Typical Impacts


site
Filling: adding any material to change the bottom level of a wetland;

• Applicants efforts to show alternatives to mod-


Draining: removing the water from a wetland by ditching, tilling, pumping, or

ify the size and scope of the project


other such techniques;

3. Rectification Excavating: dredging and removing soil and vegetation from a wetland;

There may be times that a wetland impact is Diverting water: preventing the flow of water into a wetland by removing wa-
not possible to avoid, but the impact either is ter upstream, lowering lake levels, or lowering groundwater tables;

temporary or results in no net loss of wetlands.


Clearing: removing vegetation by digging or scraping;

Temporary impacts may be approved by the


county if the activity is completed and the physi- Flooding: raising water levels, either behind dams or by pumping or other-
cal characteristics of the wetland are restored wise channeling water into a wetland so that water levels are too high for

within six months from the start of the activity. wetland vegetation and animals to survive (i.e., converting a wetland to a lake

An example would be the construction of a tem- or pond);

porary road through a wetland that is needed Diverting or withholding sediment: trapping sediment through the construc-
for a short term project. Once the project is tion of dams, channelization or other such projects that inhibit the regeneration

completed, the road is removed. A performance of wetlands in natural areas of deposition, such as deltas;

bond would need to be provided to the county Shading: placing pile supported platforms or bridges over wetlands, causing

for an amount sufficient to cover the cost of re- vegetation to die;

storing the wetland to pre-project conditions.


Conducting activities in adjacent areas: disrupting the interactions between

4. Reduction o r Elimination of Im- wetlands and adjacent land areas, or indirectly impacting wetlands through

pacts Over Time activities at adjoining sites.

Further impacts from draining or filling must be


reduced or eliminated by managing the project
in a manner that preserves remaining wetland Do’s
functions and values. The county must require
Rather than draining or filling wet-
the applicants to implement Best Management
lands, seek compatible uses involv-
Practices (i.e. silt fences) to protect wetland
ing minimal wetland alteration, such
functions and values.
as waterfowl production, fur harvest,
5. Replacement hay and forage, wild rice production,
hunting and trapping leases, and se-
Replacement wetlands must replace the func-
lective timber harvest.
tions and values that are lost from a wetland
that is drained or filled. Replacement of wetland Maintain wetlands and adjacent buf-
functions and values may occur at more than fer strips as open space.
one location. Encourage neighbors, developers,
Conservation Level and state and local governments to
protect the function and value of wet-
In both shoreland and nonshoreland areas, open-conif-
lands in your watershed.
erous bog wetlands are in the high protection level and
have impacts limited to 400 square feet. To the extent Select upland rather than wetlands
that a local shoreland management ordinance is more sites for development projects and
restrictive than 400 square feet, the local shoreland or- avoid wetland alteration or degrada-
dinance applies. tion during project construction.
Impacts

Wetland Areas Boardwalk Harvesting Temporary Recreation


Road
in Minnesota
This map illustrates the Don’ts
concentrated amount
of wetlands present in
northern Minnesota when
Impacts

compared to the amount


of wetlands throughout
the remainder of the state
emphasizing the need for
wetland conservation. Dredging Filling Construction Flooding

© St. Louis County, Minnesota Planning and Development 3


St. Louis County
Contact Information
Wetland Administration, Technical Assistance & Enforcement

Primary Contact for all Wetlands Issues


Contact these agencies FIRST if you suspect wetlands exist, to request After working with primary contacts, try these agencies for additional
a review, or obtain necessary permits for projects that may affect technical assistance.
wetlands.

St. Louis County Soil & Water Fond Du Lac U.S. Army State of Minnesota State of Minnesota
Planning and Development Conservation District Reservation Corps of Board of Water & Soil Department of Natural
North St. Louis Office of Water Protection Engineers Resources (BWSR) Resources (DNR)
Waters Division
or
South St. Louis

Local administers of the Minnesota Provides technical, educational, and Administers wetland regulations on all Regulates deposition of fill or dredge State Administration of the Minnesota Regulates Public Waters Permits for all
Wetland Conservation Act. Provides financial resources to land occupiers in lands on the Fond du Lac Reservation material in waters of the U.S. or adjacent Wetland Conservation Act work within public water wetlands of types
plan and site reviews for wetland order to implement practices and projects and provides technical and educational wetlands through section 404 of the Clean 3, 4 and 5 that are 10 or more acres in size
determinations, delineations, banking and that preserve, protect, and enhance water resources to help protect and enhance Water Act and section 10 of the Rivers or 2.5 acres in incorporated areas.
replacement. Coordinates enforcement quality and other natural resources. water quality. Water Act of 1899.
with DNR.

St. Louis County North St. Louis County Fond du Lac Reservation U.S. Army BWSR DNR Waters
Planning and Development Soil and Water Office of Water Protection Corps of Engineers 394 S. Lake Ave. Ste 403 Duluth Metro
Northland Office Bldg Conservation District (SWCD) 1720 Big Lake Rd. 1554 Hwy. 2, Ste 2 Duluth, MN 55802 1568 Hwy. 2
307 1st St. S. Northland Office Bldg Cloquet, MN 55720 Two Harbors, MN 55616 Phone: 218-723-4923 Two Harbors, MN 55616
Virginia, MN 55792 307 1st St. S., Ste 114 Phone: 218-878-8022 218-834-6630 Fax: 218-723-4794 Phone: 218-834-1440
Phone: 218-749-0633 Virginia, MN 55792 Fax: 218-879-4854 Fax: 218-834-6639
800-450-9777 Phone: 218-742-9505
Rest of St. Louis County
Fax: 218-749-0620 Fax: 218-742-9515 7979 Hwy. 37
Eveleth, MN 55734
www.nslswcd.org Phone: 218-744-7450
Fax: 218-744-7451
South St. Louis County
Soil and Water
Conservation District (SWCD)
215 N. 1st Ave. E.
Duluth, MN 55802
Phone: 218-723-4867
Fax: 218-723-4731

www.co.st-louis.mn.us www.southstlouisswcd.org www.mvp.usace.army.mil www.bwsr.state.mn.us www.dnr.state.mn.us

About the Guide


This guide is designed to give general information about
wetland regulations, identifying wetland areas, common
species, and impacts to wetland areas for residents,
contractors, and professionals associated with wetland
property.
St. Louis County has over 1,000 lakes, countless rivers
and streams, and hundreds of thousands of acres of
wetlands that provide recreational opportunities to both
residents and tourists.

Obtaining the Guide


Copies of this guide are available free to all residents. Publishing Information
Requests for a large number of guides should be directed This project was funded in part by the Coastal Zone Management Act, by
to St. Louis County Planning and Development and may NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resourced Management, in cooperation
be charged a minimal fee to cover printing and production with Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program.
costs. All requests should be directed to:
The Wetland Guide was developed and published by St. Louis County
218-725-5000 Planning and Development Department.
Toll Free Minnesota 800-450-9777
www.co.st-louis.mn.us
Information Updates
St. Louis County strives to maintain the latest information available. If any
St. Louis County
information in this guide is incorrect or any additional information is needed,
Planning and Development
please contact St. Louis County Planning and Development, 218-725-5000.
100 Missabe Building
227 West First Street © Copyright. All Rights Reserved
Duluth, MN 55802