What is the Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area?

The Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area (MRCCA) is a special state designation that provides coordinated management and protection for the 72-mile stretch of the Mississippi River through the Twin Cities. Our video and other resources explain how MRCCA came to be and why it matters.

Why the river and its 'critical area'


To watch full-screen, hit 'play' then click the square in the lower right corner. (Transcript available here.)

What exactly is this 'critical area'?

To protect our metro river's natural, aesthetic, cultural and historical values and preserve its biological and ecological functions, the Minnesota Legislature designated the Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area in 1976.

The "critical area" includes 72-miles of riverfront and 54,000 acres of river-adjacent lands in our Twin Cities metro. It runs from Dayton on the north to Hastings on the south, and crosses 30 local jurisdictions and seven counties. 

Special development, or building and design, standards apply throughout this area to protect the river, as do shoreline and habitat management rules.

But critical area rules are not one-size-fits-all. State, regional and local authorities must work together to plan and manage this special stretch of the river that's best both for the long-term health of the river and our riverfront communities.  

These resources and values are protected through development standards and criteria implemented via local land use plans and zoning ordinances. The 25 cities and townships within MRCCA are about to adopt these ordinances. 

Learn more about MRCCA from Friends of the Mississippi River and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Resources for you

We've created a handy one-page flyer for you to read and share.

For more detail, we have additional videos, handouts, and helpful tools on our main MRCCA page.

Join the River Guardians

If you'd like to be notified of opportunities to weigh in on local riverfront plans or protect the river's health, sign up to be a River Guardian.

To keep up to date on important river land use and development issues in the river corridor, check out our river land use and development blog.

Questions? Contact River Corridor Program Director Colleen O'Connor Toberman, ctoberman@fmr.org or 651.222.2193 x29. 

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