(information last updated January 2019)

Ongoing Projects:

State Project(s):

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (“MPCA”) maintains a list of “dozens of programs that train and support citizen scientists.” See Citizen Science, Minn. Pollution Control Agency, https://www.pca.state.mn.us/ecoexperience/citizen-science (last visited Feb. 7, 2019). As of February 2019, MCPA programs include: 



MPCA encourages citizens to sign up and help monitor water quality in Minnesota.  See Citizen Water Monitoring, Minn. Pollution Control Agency, https://www.pca.state.mn.us/water/citizen-water-monitoring (last visited Feb. 7, 2019). Interested citizen scientists can find their site here at: https://www.pca.state.mn.us/water/find-site-and-sign (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).


The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) manages multiple volunteer wildlife survey and monitoring projects. See Volunteering - Citizen Science, Minn. Dep’t of Nat. Resources, https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/volunteering/index.html#Central (last visited Feb. 7, 2019); see also Projects, Minn. Dep’t of Nat. Resources, https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/projects/index.html (last visited Feb. 7, 2019). As of February 2019, DNR projects include:


Collection of Information:

Scientific Collection Permit:

Permits are required to conduct research in state parks and natural areas. See Minn. R. 6136.0550; id. 6212.1400; Research in Minnesota State Parks, Minn. Dep’t of Nat. Resources, https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/parks_trails/research.html (last visited Feb. 7, 2019); Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas Program Research and Education, Minn. Dep’t of Nat. Resources, https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/snap/research.html (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).

Trespass Laws:

Criminal Liability for Trespass Despite Lack of Notice:

No.  In order for a person’s entry upon property to constitute criminal trespass, either (1) the person must “refuse[] to depart from the premises on demand of the lawful possessor,” Minn. Stat. § 609.605, subd. 1(b)(3), or (2) the property must be “locked or posted,” id. § 609.605, subd. 1(b)(4).

Trespass on Agricultural Land:


“A person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor if the person enters the posted premises of another on which cattle, bison, sheep, goats, swine, horses, poultry, farmed Cervidae, farmed Ratitae, aquaculture stock, or other species of domestic animals for commercial production are kept, without the consent of the owner or lawful occupant of the land.” Minn. Stat. § 609.605, subd. 5(a).

Other Provisions:

See infra “Critical Infrastructure Laws.”

Drone Laws:

State Parks:

DNR “discourages use of unmanned aircraft in state parks, state recreation areas, and state waysides because of the impracticality of their operation under existing rule.” Minnesota State Park Rules, Minn. Dep’t of Nat. Resources, https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/rules.html (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).

Critical Infrastructure Laws:


“(a) Whoever enters or is found upon property containing a critical public service facility, utility, or pipeline, without claim of right or consent of one who has the right to give consent to be on the property, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor, if:

(1) the person refuses to depart from the property on the demand of one who has the right to give consent;

(2) within the past six months, the person had been told by one who had the right to give consent to leave the property and not to return, unless a person with the right to give consent has given the person permission to return; or

(3) the property is posted.

(b) Whoever enters an underground structure that (1) contains a utility line or pipeline and (2) is not open to the public for pedestrian use, without claim of right or consent of one who has the right to give consent to be in the underground structure, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor. The underground structure does not need to be posted for this paragraph to apply.” Minn. Stat. § 609.6055, subd.2.


“‘Critical public service facility’ includes buildings and other physical structures, and fenced in or otherwise enclosed property … oil refineries; and storage areas or facilities for hazardous materials, hazardous substances, or hazardous wastes.” Id. § 609.6055, subd. 1(b).


“‘Pipeline’ includes an aboveground pipeline, a belowground pipeline housed in an underground structure, and any equipment, facility, or building located in this state that is used to transport natural or synthetic gas, crude petroleum or petroleum fuels or oil or their derivatives, or hazardous liquids, to or within a distribution, refining, manufacturing, or storage facility that is located inside or outside of this state. Pipeline does not include service lines.” Id. § 609.6055, subd. 1(c).


“‘Utility’ includes … any local utility or enterprise formed for the purpose of providing electrical or gas heating and power, telephone, water, sewage, wastewater, or other related utility service[.]” Id. § 609.6055, subd. 1(d)(3).

Stalking Laws

Criminal Laws:

A person is guilty of stalking if he “follows, monitors, or pursues another, whether in person or through any available technological or other means” or “returns to the property of another if the actor is without claim of right to the property or consent of one with authority to consent.” Minn. Stat. § 609.749, subd. 2(2)-(3).


“As used in this section, ‘stalking’ means to engage in conduct which the actor knows or has reason to know would cause the victim under the circumstances to feel frightened, threatened, oppressed, persecuted, or intimidated; and causes this reaction on the part of the victim regardless of the relationship between the actor and victim.”  Id. § 609.749, subd. 1.

Use of Information:

Although our research is incomplete, these provisions address the use of information collected by citizens.

Explicitly Allows:

MPCA should “maximize use of available . . . resources . . . including use of citizen monitoring and citizen monitoring data . . . that meets the requirements . . . of the Volunteer Surface Monitoring Guide” in implementing the state clean water act. Minn. Stat. § 114D.20, subd. 3(2).  

Prohibitive by Effect:

MPCA may only consider citizen-collected data that “meets the requirements . . . of the Volunteer Surface Monitoring Guide,” Minn. Stat. § 114D.20, subd. 3(2), or that “adheres to agency quality assurance and quality control protocols.”  Minn. Stat. § 115.06, subd. 4(2).

Evidentiary Standards:

Pleading a Claim:

Requires certification that “the allegations and other factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, are likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery.”  Minn. R. Civ. P. 11.02(c).

Authentication or Chain of Custody:

“The requirement of authentication or identification as a condition precedent to admissibility is satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims.”  Minn. R. Evid. 901(a).

Expert Testimony:

Minnesota Rule of Evidence 702 and Mack-Frye standard.  See Goeb v. Tharaldson, 615 N.W.2d 800, 812-14 (Minn. 2000) (reaffirming use of Mack-Frye standard and declining to adopt Daubert standard); see also State v. Mack, 292 N.W.2d 764, 768 (Minn. 1980).


Please note that this discussion is not moderated by the Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic.