Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Project development

Environmental process | Environmental review

Department of Natural Resources (DNR) - MnDOT Liaison

Early coordination, review and determination


MnDOT projects may impact DNR areas of concern, such as DNR managed lands, Public Waters, wetlands, aquatic invasive species, rare species, groundwater, water appropriations, fisheries, wildlife, nongame species, remnant native vegetation, etc. MnDOT may be required to get a permit when a project will affect the course, current, or cross-section of public waters.

For projects that require ENM review by DNR, the liaison position typically circulates ENM documentation with DNR area managers to identify items of concern. The DNR Liaison response will identify DNR items of concern, but may also include suggested measures for their avoidance, minimization, or mitigation as well as ecological enhancement opportunities within a project’s limits. Included in ENM review is a Natural Heritage Information System (NHIS) rare species search.  Initial NHIS review is a general review that can be used for Categorical Exclusion (CATEX) determination. Detailed NHIS review may be needed separately for projects requiring EA, EAW or EIS review.  

Direct contact with DNR area managers may also occur at any time in a project’s development process. Cooperative opportunities with DNR also may occur for State Parks, Trials, Public Water Access, or other ecological concerns. 

When to use this subject

Permit review and authorization is an interactive process between DNR and MnDOT.  It may also require mitigation for detrimental aspects of the project.  DNR review is required for work outside of the Point of Intersection (PI), except in cases where work is within the PI and existing right of way, but is limited to aspects of ADA compliance, signage, or safety work associated with guardrail, railings, or lighting. There are no exemptions for work proposed to impact Public Waters.

All projects requiring an EAW, EA, or EIS level of environmental review, also must be reviewed by the DNR liaison during the ENM phase.

The DNR’s ENM response will identify applicable permit conditions, design requirements, and suggest measures for their avoidance, minimization, or mitigation as well as ecological enhancement opportunities within a project’s limits.  A project’s design may be reviewed by DNR at any time during project development, though preferably before 30% or no later than 60% planset development.  Permit application may occur with a 90% planset. Common permit categories for MnDOT are stormwater outfalls, stream/river crossings with culvert/bridges, and fill or riprap for road widening/protection.  

Specific permit conditions may be developed to allow for site specific concerns. Guidance is also provided in the Best Practices Guide for GP2004-0001.  Culvert design guidance may be found in the  Minnesota Guide for Stream Connectivity & Aquatic Organism Passage Through Culverts (AOP Guide).

How this subject fits into the overall project development process

Start working with the DNR Liaison during the Early Notification Memo (ENM) phase for both environmental review and permitting.

Organizations involved

  • MnDOT:
    • District Design
    • District Hydraulics
    • District Right of Way
    • District Environmental
    • District Construction
    • Project Managers
    • Office of Land Management
    • Office of Environmental Stewardship
  • DNR
  • Municipalities and counties