Fifty years ago, the Minnesota Legislature ensured better land management and conservation through three key conservation measures.
The Shoreland Protection Act, Floodplain Management Act, and legislation authorizing scientific and natural areas were all signed into law in 1969 by Gov. Harold LeVander.
At that time, most lake properties consisted of relatively tiny seasonal cabins built close to the water on small lots in a relatively natural state. Many Minnesota cities routinely suffered extensive flooding, endangering residents and causing massive economic losses. There was no broad program or legislation in place to protect natural landscapes in the state.
Fifty years later, shoreland management protections benefit both lakes and lake users. These measures have proven to be particularly important as large year-round lake homes and lawns, brick or stone hardscaping, and large docks and powerful boats have become common. While some communities still experience negative impacts from flooding, those that have undertaken flood risk reduction projects have fared relatively well, even with today’s more frequent and extreme rainfall events.
Scientific and natural areas protect native habitat and unique geologic features through a combination of private land purchases, land and money donations, leases from organizations like The Nature Conservancy, conservation easements and agreements with local governments.
“Minnesota leaders had tremendous foresight in enacting these measures fifty years ago, and all Minnesotans have reaped the benefits,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “Now, it’s our responsibility to build on the foundation these programs have provided as we manage our natural resources for the future.”
More information is available on the DNR website about how to protect shorelands, how communities can reduce flood risks, and how everyone can enjoy and enhance Minnesota’s scientific and natural areas.