Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area — New rules in place!

MRCCA - Learn all about it!

What is it?
Why is it necessary?
What's happening now?
What you can do
How did we get here?
Who to contact for more information



What is it?

River Corridor Map

The Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area (MRCCA) is a designated area along the banks of the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities where development is held to certain minimum standards.

The Mississippi River Critical Area:
• Surrounds 72 miles of the Mississippi River
• Covers 54,000 acres of land
• Runs from Dayton & Ramsey in the north to Hastings & Ravenna Township in the south
• Shares the same boundaries as our local national park, the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area.

Why is it necessary?

The goal of the critical area rules is to preserve and enhance our portion of the Mississippi River corridor. The critical area designation does this by protecting and preserving the unique natural, aesthetic, cultural and historical values as well as the biological and ecological functions of the Mississippi River and adjacent lands. (More precise details can be found in MN Statute 116G.15, Subdivision 1.)

What's happening now?

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' rules for development within the corridor are now law! (FMR press release.) 

Next, each of the 25 river corridor cities and townships will need to update their plans and ordinances to be consistent with the new rules. Before this happens, the state Department of Natural Resources will develop a schedule for the municipal updates, a model ordinance and other tools to assist cities. Friends of the Mississippi River will reach out to city officials and local citizens to engage in this process, which is expected to take three to five years. We hope to work constructively with cities and will be available to provide technical assistance if needed.

Even with support, this will be a complex undertaking for each local government to implement. We encourage the Legislature and Governor Dayton to provide funding to corridor cities and towns to ensure they can do a thorough job developing their local MRCCA plans and ordinances.

What you can do

Sign up to become a River Protector and be sure to click "I will advocate for the vitality of the Twin Cities river corridor, our national park," and we'll make sure you receive future MRCCA communications from FMR. 

How did we get here?

1973   Minnesota Critical Areas Act was established.
• 1976   Governor Wendell Anderson issued Executive Order Number 130 to establish the Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area to improve the quality of the Mississippi River.
• 1979   Governor Al Quie issued Executive Order 79-19 renewed MRCCA and the Metropolitan Council made its designation permanent.
• 1988   The Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area is designated a unit of the National Park Service, the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area.
• 2009 & 2013   The Minnesota Legislature directed the Department of Natural Resources to write state rules to replace the Executive Order. This was intended to strengthen and modernize protections along the corridor.
• 2016    The Department of Natural Resources formally released their draft rules for public comment to an Administrative Law Judge, Eric Lipman. The judge accepted public comments in writing through July 6, 2016 and held three public hearings over the summer. FMR and our allies submitted comments (many based on our talking points and tips). The judge's report was released August 11, 2016 and the Department of Natural Resources subsequently addressed some technical issues and moved forward with formal adoption. This included a gubernatorial waiver and formal approval by Gov. Mark Dayton.
The rules reflect the state agency's seven years of stakeholder meetings with cities, counties, park agencies, state agencies, environmental advocacy organizations, and more. To learn more about the legal review and waiver process, visit the DNR's webpage

Who to contact for more information

• FMR River Corridor Director Irene Jones
   ijones@fmr.org651-222-2193 x11

• FMR Policy Advocate Alicia Uzarek
   auzarek@fmr.org651-222-2193 x29