Critical Area

A map showing the Mississippi's critical Area District.
The term "Critical Area" refers to both a geographic area and a set of laws and rules that are applied to that specific geographic area. The Mississippi River Critical Area Corridor extends from the northern borders of the cities of Dayton and Ramsey to the southern boundary of Dakota County (on the west side of the river) and the boundary with the Lower St. Croix National Scenic Riverway (on the east side of the river). The boundaries of the Mississippi River Critical Area Corridor and that of the National Park Service's Mississippi National River and Recreation Area are the same. The State of Minnesota designated the Mississippi River as a Critical Area in order to:

-protect and preserve a unique and valuable state and regional resource for the benefit of the health, safety and welfare of the citizens for the state, region, and nation;

-prevent and mitigate irreversible damage to this resource; preserving and enhancing its natural, aesthetic, cultural, and historical value for public use;

-protect and preserve the river as an essential element in the national, state and regional transportation, sewer and water and recreational systems; and

-protect and preserve the biological and ecological functions of the corridor. The history of the laws and rules that apply to the Critical Area began when the Minnesota legislature passed the Critical Area Act in 1973. The Critical Area Act requires that each government having jurisdiction over land within the Critical Area boundaries devise a plan that defines how it will act to meet the goals and purposes of the Critical Area Act. Property owners are affected by these plans and laws because they define how land near the Mississippi River may be developed.

The history of the laws and rules that apply to the Critical Area began when the Minnesota legislature passed the Critical Area Act in 1973. The Critical Area Act requires that each government having jurisdiction over land within the Critical Area boundaries devise a plan that defines how it will act to meet the goals and purposes of the Critical Area Act. Property owners are affected by these plans and laws because they define how land near the Mississippi River may be developed. In 1976, four corridor districts were established that identify different types of land use along the river. Each district has its own set of guidelines, which are consistent with natural characteristics and existing development. State Executive Order 79-19 details the rules and guidelines that each community must incorporate in its Critical Area plan.

Local governments, the Metropolitan Council, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the National Park Service are partners in managing land use along the Mississippi River through the Critical Area and Mississippi National River and Recreation Area programs.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55101

Phone:

(651) 293-0200
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