Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Project development

Environmental process | Environmental review

Wild and Scenic Rivers


This document covers the Federal and State Wild and Scenic Rivers, State Water Trails, and the Mississippi National River Recreation Area (MNRRA)/Mississippi River Critical Area. Federal and State laws preserve and protect these and other rivers and their environments and resources.

When to use this subject

Use this guidance if a project includes work in or near one of the Federal Wild and Scenic Rivers, State Wild and Scenic Rivers, State Water Trails or the MNRRA/Mississippi River Critical area.

If a project is not in one of these areas, include a statement in the environmental documentation that explains that the project will not involve any state or federal (potential) Wild and Scenic River, State Water Trails, or the MNRRA/Mississippi River Critical Area.

The federal and state Wild and Scenic Rivers Acts preserve and protect Wild and Scenic Rivers and their immediate environments for the benefit of present and future generations. 

Minnesota Statutes, section 85.32, “State Water Trails,” marks rivers that have historic and scenic values and appropriately marks points of interest, portages, campsites, and all dams, rapids, waterfalls, whirlpools, and other serious hazards that are dangers to canoe and watercraft travelers.

National Park System that Congress established in 1988 to protect and enhance the nationally significant historical, recreational, scenic, cultural, natural, economic, and scientific resources of the river corridor. The MNRRA extends along the Mississippi River and designated adjacent lands for approximately 72 miles from the communities of Dayton and Ramsey in the north to just south of Hastings. This is the same area as the State Mississippi River Critical Area. Local governments administer the Critical Area program.

How this subject fits into the overall project development process

Start this process during the scoping phase. Complete evaluation during the environmental review process. Obtain related permits and approvals prior to letting.

Organizations involved

  • MnDOT:
  • National Park Service Midwest Regional Office
  • National Park Service MNRRA
  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR)
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WIDNR)
  • Mississippi River Parkway Commission
  • Mississippi Headwaters Board
  • Southern Minnesota Rivers Basin Board
  • South Dakota-Minnesota Boundary Commission
  • Minnesota-Wisconsin Boundary Area Commission