Floating bog creating problems? DNR permit is required to move one

Following heavy rains this past spring, more lakeshore property owners than usual were asking the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources about an unexpected visitor – floating bogs dislodged by the high water and coming to rest against docks, water outlets and boat landings.

“This has been a unique summer. Typically we issue around 50 permits a year for property owners to move nuisance floating bogs and we hit that mark in mid-July,” said Jon Hansen, aquatic plant management coordinator with the DNR.

If a property owner or associated group chooses to remove or relocate a floating bog, they must acquire a permit from the DNR. The property owner or group also is responsible for moving the bog. But the DNR can provide advice as part of the permitting process.

Floating bogs are mostly emergent aquatic or wetland vegetation such as cattails. Most that end up along people’s docks are anywhere from 10 square feet to several acres in size. 

“Oftentimes people need help making sure any nuisance bog material finds a home that won’t bother others,” Hansen said. “We are not responsible for moving bogs and usually focus on sharing information. Although DNR staff were on site as crews of volunteers tried to move a large nuisance floating bog on North Long Lake by Legionville that was the size of five football fields this summer, that was a rare event.”

The DNR considers the ecological value of bogs in the permitting process and prefers that floating bogs are returned to where they came from because of their ecological value. The removal or destruction of rooted bogs is not allowed. Property owners who want to move a floating bog that washes ashore are advised to act quickly before it becomes rooted.

While the property owner who finds a bog nestled against their boat lift may consider it a nuisance, bogs do play an important role in the health of the lake. Bogs are made up of vegetation that provide important habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife. They also act as sponges by soaking up excess nutrients that enter a lake and help prevent harmful algal blooms.

More information about aquatic plant management permits can be found at mndnr.gov/apm.