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Definitions for understanding best management practices

Helpful definitions

Beach sand blanket. Sand that is added to form a beach. It shouldn't be added where it would destroy fish or wildlife habitat, wild rice or other protected vegetation. Size restrictions apply; contact the DNR Area Hydrologist for specifics.

Erosion. The process by which soil or rock material is worn down and carried away by wind or water. Erosion is increased when vegetation is removed and soil is left exposed.

Eutrophic. Water very high in nutrients, generally referring to lakes; lakes commonly experience algal blooms and excessive weed growth.

Filter strip. Vegetated area adjacent to shoreline that helps prevent contaminants from reaching the water; preferably native vegetation.

Infiltration. Water seeping into the ground through pores in soil, sand or gravel or through cracks in bedrock; infiltration can help minimize erosion.

Ordinary high water level (OHWL). Highest water level that a lake has maintained for enough time to leave evidence on the landscape. This is commonly where natural vegetation changes from aquatic to upland species; for streams, the OHWL is generally the top of the bank of the channel.

Riparian zone. Land area adjacent to a stream or lakeshore that may experience periodic flooding.

Runoff. Water flowing over the surface of land or soil. Runoff can cause erosion and is increased when surfaces are paved or covered with roofs, patios or decks.

Setback. The required distance between the shoreline and property development. Different distances apply for dwellings, septic systems, outbuildings and wells. Required setbacks vary for different water bodies; county and municipal ordinances may vary.

Shore impact zone. Land area adjacent to a shoreline in which certain regulations apply and some activities are prohibited.

Shoreland regulations. DNR regulations determining the type and extent of development allowed near shorelines; counties or municipalities may adopt more restrictive ordinances.

Topography. Shape or contour of the land. Topography and slope influence how property should be developed. Construction or other activity on steep slopes increases runoff and erosion.

Water bar. A small, raised ridge on the road surface used to deflect water flow into a ditch; designed to reduce erosion by minimizing flow down the road.

Watershed. The drainage basin or area in which surface water drains toward a lake or stream. Ground water flow may or may not parallel surface topography.

Reviewed in 2018

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