Aquatic Plant Removal

Aquatic plant removal by property owners may require permits.

Lakeshore property owners are reminded that removal of aquatic plants from Minnesota lakes may require a permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The DNR staff members who issue permits for aquatic plant removal can help property owners avoid harming the lake. 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 spur the growth of algae. We encourage shoreline property owners to limit the disturbance of near-shore vegetation so that plants can still 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
  • The cleared area may not extend more than 50 feet along shore or more than one-half of 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 such as white or yellow water-lilies interferes with boat access, a lake shore property owner can mechanically maintain (by cutting or pulling) a channel extending to open water without a permit. However the channel must be no more than 15 feet wide and comply with the following conditions:

    • The cleared channel must remain in the same place from year to year
    • The vegetation that is cut or pulled must be removed from the water.
      A DNR aquatic plant management permit (permit fee is $35) 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. Bog that has broken free and has become a navigational hazard may be returned to the site from which it broke free and staked down to keep it in place. The Mission Lakes Association will provide assistance in recruiting volunteers to assist in the relocation.

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 on the Aquatic Plant Management Program check out the Minnesota DNR website.