State of the Beach/State Reports/MN

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Minnesota's Lake Superior Coastal Program provides beach/lake access information through the recreation and destinations links on their website. Beach water quality information (and beach access information) is available through the Maps link and there is a substantial amount of nonpoint source pollution prevention information. DNR provides nature and natural resources education information on beach ecology. Information on coastal erosion, erosion response, beach fill, shoreline structures and surfing areas is somewhat limited or lacking. Concerns exist regarding water quality, shoreline erosion and inappropriate shoreline development in some areas.

Minnesota Ratings


(+) In 2013 the Minnesota Stormwater Manual went digital in a user-friendly wiki-format website.

(+) The Great Lakes Commission (GLC), in partnership with LimnoTech and the Great Lakes states, has developed a free smartphone application that provides convenient, public access to swim advisories and other environmental conditions information for more than 1,800 beaches in the Great Lakes region. The myBeachCast application (app) retrieves locational and advisory data for Great Lakes in the eight Great Lakes states. The app also features real-time and forecasted weather and lake conditions (e.g., water temperature, wave heights, wind speed/direction) and nearshore marine forecasts, drawn from the Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). myBeachCast allows users to discover local beaches based on the user’s location, view beaches and their status on a map, save favorite beaches, and get driving directions. To download myBeachCast, go to

(+) With funding from Minnesota's Lake Superior Coastal Management Program, Grand Marais was able to develop a storm water management plan to address erosion, flooding and water quality concerns.

(+) The Minnesota Lake Superior Beach Monitoring Program website has maps of Lake Superior Beaches, a description of their beach monitoring programs, and the capability of viewing local beach advisories using satellite map imagery. Data can also be accessed with the beach bacteria data viewer.

(+) The Minnesota Coastal Area supports various types of public access including beaches, boating, parks and natural areas, historical and cultural areas, and an extensive network of trails. Approximately 1,504 square miles of Lake Superior is held in public trust for the citizens of Minnesota. A wide variety of public access opportunities are provided by public and private entities in Minnesota’s Coastal Area.

(+) The brochure Management of Bluffs and Slopes provides information regarding ways to prevent on minimize shoreline erosion problems. These include zoning for compatible land uses, implementing appropriate bluff setbacks for structures, and requiring modern erosion-control and stormwater measures that are necessary to preserve the integrity of steep slopes and bluffs. The Department of Natural Resources' Lakescaping and shoreland restoration Web page emphasizes the importance and benefits of maintaining natural buffer zones for shoreland properties.

(0) The availability of public access to the 206 miles of Minnesota shoreline is largely dependent on the ownership above the Ordinary High Watermark (OHW).

(-) In March 2017 the Trump administration proposed a 97% cut in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

(-) Most local governments do not have the technical capability to develop appropriate authorities to adequately mange the lakeshore resources.

(-) Much of the existing lakeshore is inaccessible by roads or has insufficient parking available to accommodate the demand for shoreline use.

(-) Landowners and developers often challenge local ordinances and building setback requirements. Low priority funding for permit compliance monitoring, and development in remote areas provide an environment for a shoot first ask questions later mentality to development. Large condominium and town home development are replacing single-family dwellings. As impervious surfaces increase on the coastline, storm water damage is replacing damage created by wave action and higher lake levels.

(-) Approximately 60 miles of unstable clay embankment areas exist along the Minnesota shore of Lake Superior. Approximately 70,000 tons of soil erode each year from the Minnesota Lake Superior shoreline alone, causing economic and environmental losses and damages. Despite these known shoreline erosion problems, erosion data is not readily available to the public or to government planners and officials.

(-) DNR's brochure Natural Shorelines states: "As native trees and shrubs decline, diverse species like warblers, loons, and hummingbirds are replaced by common birds like house sparrows, blue jays, and grackles. Loons, ducks, and other birds will not likely nest on a groomed and manicured shore or beach. Even small areas of native grass can attract nesting ducks and other wildlife. Green frogs are also disappearing with development. Removal of aquatic plants alters the spawning habitat, food supply, and protective cover that fish need. As we “clean up” our shores, we are removing inlake vegetation, logs, and other parts of the lake’s ecosystem. We are removing the place where turtles and ducks sun and the habitat in which fish and frogs lay eggs. We are removing the turtles, ducks, fish, and frogs."


Surfrider Foundation has a Minnesota-Superior Chapter! The chapter works with many other organizations for beach and waterway clean-ups, such as: The Alliance for the Great Lakes, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly and Jack Johnson’s All At Once.

To see all of Surfrider Foundation's coastal victories and campaigns, go here.

State of the Beach Report: Minnesota
Minnesota Home Beach Description Beach Access Water Quality Beach Erosion Erosion Response Beach Fill Shoreline Structures Beach Ecology Surfing Areas Website
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