State of the Beach/State Reports/MN/Beach Fill

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Minnesota Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access66
Water Quality66
Beach Erosion3-
Erosion Response-4
Beach Fill4-
Shoreline Structures3 4
Beach Ecology1-
Surfing Areas35
Coastal Development{{{19}}}{{{20}}}
Sea Level Rise{{{21}}}{{{22}}}


State, Territory, and Commonwealth Beach Nourishment Programs, A National Overview (NOAA, March 2000) provides the following information:

"The State of Minnesota does not have policies specific to beach renourishment.

The North Shore of Lake Superior is unlike the shores of the other great lakes and coastal waters of the U.S. and its territories. Minnesota does not have a definition of “beach” in its laws pertaining to land use or protected waters management. The state relies on the definition of Beds of Protected Waters and the Ordinary High Watermark to manage the protection of waters. The Minnesota Shoreland Management Act, Minn. Stat. §103F.201-103F.221, and the Statewide Standards for Management of Shoreland Areas, Minn. R. 6120.2500 both govern the use of lands adjacent to lakes and rivers and any shoreland alterations. In addition, the North Shore Management Plan, Minn. R. 6120.2800, contains specific standards to guide the management of the Lake Superior shoreland area, including standards for shoreline alterations. Counties and municipalities adopt and administer the state standards as part of their official land use controls and any activity that will involve the movement of more that 10 cubic yards of earth by excavating or filling within the shore impact zone must first be authorized by a local government grading and filling permit.

Related Policies

Near Shore Sand Mining Regulations

Sand and gravel operations in Minnesota require county/city permits. The Division of Minerals in Minnesota has developed a “Handbook for Reclaiming Sand and Gravel Pits in Minnesota”, its purpose is to provide technical information about reclaiming sand and gravel pits. No specific information on near shore sand mining was found.

Dredge and Fill Regulations

Dredge and fill activities are governed under the Protected Waters Permit Program, Minn. Stat. §103G.201-103G.315, and Water Permits regulations, Minn. R. 6115.0010- 6115.0810. This statute and regulation limit excavation from the beds of protected waters, regulate the nature, degree and purpose of excavations, and control the deposition of material excavated from protected waters in order to protect against adverse effects. The regulatory limit for this Permit Program on Lake Superior is the vegetation line above the beach. Therefore, all beach nourishment activities are regulated pursuant to this program.

Public Access Regulations

Minnesota’s Outdoor Recreation System Statue, Minn. Stat. §86A.02, provides for specific programs to be implemented that will provide shorefront access. Minnesota’s abundant outdoor recreational opportunities are to be made available to all citizens of Minnesota now and in the future.

Beach Renourishment Funding Program

Minnesota has no beach nourishment funding program."

DNR Waters has a publication Shoreline Alterations: Beach Sand Blanket that states:

"One goal of DNR Waters is to limit unnecessary and potentially damaging alterations to shorelines. Specifically, use of beach sand and other types of fill is limited in order to prevent damage to fish spawning areas, aquatic habitat, and water quality of Minnesota's lakes."

The publication also provides guidance and specifications on installing a "sand blanket."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) completed a Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP) for the Duluth-Superior Harbor in April 1999.

The Great Lakes Dredging Team has collected several reference documents on Dredged Material Management.


Information on beach fill in Minnesota is limited.

The report Summary of Beach Nourishment Activity Along the Great Lakes' Shoreline 1955-1996 lists 4 beach nourishment projects along Minnesota's Lake Superior shoreline between 1975 and 1996. All projects were in Duluth. The report lists beach location, date, funding type, volume, length, and cost for each project.

Clean sand dredged from Duluth-Superior Harbor entrance channels and basins was placed at Minnesota Point in 1996 and 1998 (113,000 cubic yards in 1998 and 50,000 cubic yards in 1996) and at Wisconsin Point, WI in 1983 and 1990 (45,000 cubic yards in 1990 and 44,000 cubic yards in 1983). The material was placed at various locations that were susceptible to erosion. Suitable "clean" dredging project areas were within a reasonable distance of the beach nourishment sites. This activity provided the impetus for ongoing beach nourishment, which continues at these locations. A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) website notes beach fill in the context of the dredged material disposal project associated with the Duluth-Superior Harbor. This site also describes the project.

The Fiscal Year 2017 Civil Works Budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides $4.62 billion in gross discretionary funding for the Civil Works program. This budget lists proposed projects and the associated budget justification by state.

State, Territory, and Commonwealth Beach Nourishment Programs: A National Overview (2000) is a report NOAA/OCRM that provides an overview of the problem of beach erosion, various means of addressing this problem, and discusses issues regarding the use of beach nourishment. Section 2 of the report provides an overview of state, territorial, and commonwealth coastal management policies regarding beach nourishment and attendant funding programs. Appendix B provides individual summaries of 33 beach nourishment programs and policies.


Mike Peloquin
Area Hydrologist
Minnesota DNR-Waters
1568 Highway 2
Two Harbors, MN 55616
P: 218-834-6621
F: 218-834-6639

Al Klein
Duluth Area Office
USACE Detroit District
600 Lake Avenue S./Canal Park
Duluth, MN 55802
P: 218-720-5264
F: 218-720-5270

State of the Beach Report: Minnesota
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