Aquatic plant removal in Minnesota lakes may require permits

Lakeshore property owners are reminded that removal of aquatic plants from Minnesota lakes may require a permit from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

DNR staff members who issue permits for aquatic plant removal can help lakeshore owners avoid harming the lake or river near their home, said Steve Enger, DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife.

“Aquatic plants serve many important functions in lakes. They prevent shoreline erosion, stabilize bottom sediments, provide habitat for fish and wildlife, and tie up nutrients that might otherwise grow algae. We encourage shoreline property owners to keep the disturbance of near shore vegetation as small as possible,” Enger said. “Removing too many aquatic plants can impair their ability to perform these important functions.”


Lakeshore property owners can control a modest area of aquatic plants for swimming or boat docking without a permit from the DNR. Cutting, pulling, raking, or harvesting submersed vegetation, like pondweeds, watermilfoil, or coontail, in an area for recreation is allowed under the following conditions:

  • The cleared area may not exceed 2,500 square feet in size.
  • The cleared area may not extend more than 50 feet along the shore, or more than one-half the frontage width, whichever is less.
  • If the cleared area does not reach open water, a 15-foot wide channel to open water may be added.
  • The cut or pulled vegetation must be removed from the water.

If floating leaf vegetation, like white or yellow water-lilies interfere with boat access a lake shore property owner can mechanically maintain (cutting or pulling) a channel no more than 15 feet wide, extending to open water without a permit, under the following conditions:

  • The cleared channel must remain in the same place from year to year.
  • And the vegetation that is cut or pulled must be removed from the water.

A DNR aquatic plant management permit (the permit fee is $35.00) is required if plans include the following:

  • Using herbicides or algicides.
  • Removing emergent vegetation, like bulrush, cattails or wild rice.
  • Installing or operating an automated plant control device (such as the Crary WeedRoller, Beachgroomer or Lake Sweeper).
  • Removing floating leaf vegetation, in an area larger than a 15 foot wide channel (see above).
  • Controlling submerged vegetation in an area larger than 2,500 square feet or wider than 50 feet (see above).
  • Removing or relocating a bog of any size.

The DNR aquatic plant management regulations do not allow the following activities:

  • Excavating the lake bottom for aquatic plant control.
  • Use of hydraulic jets.
  • Using lake-bottom barriers to destroy or prevent the growth of aquatic plants.
  • Removing aquatic vegetation within posted fish-spawning areas.
  • Removing aquatic plants from undeveloped shoreline.


For more information about the Aquatic Plant Management Program, contact nearest regional fisheries office, phone numbers are available at the following online or by calling 651-296-6157 or
toll-free 888-646-6367.

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