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Managing Public Lands in Stream Corridor for Recreational, Fish and Wildlife and Other Natural Values

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the Minnesota DNR manage public lands located along Minnesota’s stream corridors for a variety of uses including: habitat protection and other natural amenity uses, boating, fishing, camping and other recreational uses.

The National Park Service manages the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA), which Congress added to the National Park System in 1988. The MNRRA consists of 72 miles of the Mississippi River and 54,000 acres of adjacent corridor lands within the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area. It contains more than 350 local, regional and state parks and national wildlife areas. A 22-member commission coordinates activities with the MNRRA. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has responsibility for wildlife management on over 32,900 acres of land bordering the Mississippi in Minnesota.

The National Park Service also administers the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway and the Lower St. Croix National Scenic River under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Other governmental agencies and organizations participate in managing the Upper River in accordance with the requirements of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and state-adopted rules (see section on Wild and Scenic Rivers). The Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources collaborate with the U.S. National Park Service in management activities on the Lower River (the southerly 52 miles).

The Minnesota DNR is the primary state agency involved in managing public lands located in river corridors. For example, the DNR Trails and Waterways Unit maintains almost 2,300 public access ramps and drop-in points for boating and canoeing on rivers and lakes in Minnesota. It also provides recreational amenities (campsites, picnic areas, and portages) on 19 designated canoe and boating routes comprising 2,850 river miles. The DNR Parks and Recreation Division operates and maintains 66 state parks with a total area of 220,000 acres.

The DNR Division of Fisheries and Wildlife manages and develops spawning areas, improves trout streams, constructs rough fish barriers, and obtains easements along streams for aquatic management and fishing access. The DNR manages more than 1,000 state wildlife management areas, containing about 685,000 acres, to preserve and enhance habitat for game and nongame animals. The Upper Mississippi system contains approximately 530,000 acres of wildlife refuge and management land. A 1992 amendment to Minnesota’s Outdoor Recreation Act provided the DNR Division of Fisheries and Wildlife with statutory authority to acquire property and easements for aquatic management. It identifies and acquires lake and stream shoreland for access by anglers and fisheries management personnel, for protection of important habitat areas such as spawning and feeding and nesting sites, and for research on natural history. Aquatic management areas in Morrison County were acquired recently to protect adult river muskie habitat.


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