Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area

MRCCA Overlook - Fish Creek On the bluff of the Mississippi River, the prairie and woodlands of Maplewood's Fish Creek Natural Area beckon hikers and wildlife. A trail winds up to the bluff top, and opens to views of the western horizon. Part of the Mississippi River flyway, the site is frequented by raptors, songbirds, and wildlife species such as fox, coyote, and deer. Did you know that Fish Creek and surrounding properties located in the City's southwest corner are within the Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area (MRCCA)? The MRCCA is a 72-mile span along the Mississippi River, running from Ramsey to Hastings.

The state rules and local MRCCA regulations have been in place since 1973 to protect the natural resources in the corridor. The Department of Natural Resources updated the rules in 2017. The Maplewood City Council adopted a new MRCCA ordinance that is consistent with the new rules on September 27, 2021. Click here to view the new MRCCA Ordinance.  

Following are changes to the MRCCA state rules and City ordinance that may have an impact on single family residential properties in the MRCCA district:  

  • Bluff Definition:  A natural topographic feature having a slope that rises at least 25 feet and the grade of the slope averages 18 percent or greater, measured over a horizontal distance of 25 feet.   
  • Principal and accessory structures must maintain the following setbacks to a bluff:
    1. 100-foot setback (current ordinance requires a 40-foot setback).
    2. An average setback of the principal and accessory structures on adjoining lots (current ordinance does not allow averaging), as long as the structure is not in the bluff impact zone (20 feet to the bluff line).
    3. Accessory structures under 200 square feet and decks may encroach 15 percent into the required setback (current ordinance does not allow encroachments), as long as the structure is not in the bluff impact zone (20 feet to the bluff line).
  • Vegetation Removal:  A vegetation removal permit and restoration plan is required for the removal of all or a majority of the trees or shrubs in a contiguous patch, strip, row, or block (current ordinance does not require vegetation removal permits).    
  • Nonconformities:  
    1. All legally-established nonconforming structures may remain (same as current ordinance).
    2. All legally-established nonconforming principal structures and decks may be expanded laterally (current ordinance does not allow lateral expansion), as long as the structure is not in the bluff impact zone (20 feet to the bluff line).  


Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area Map