Shoreline Management on Mississippi River

Rock Island District
Published Oct. 1, 2021
Permitted Dock within Limited Development Area 
in Pool 13, Thomson, Illinois

Permitted Dock within Limited Development Area in Pool 13, Thomson, Illinois


Mississippi River Pools 11-22


In 1989, the Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) was developed and implemented as guidance for the management, protection and preservation of the Mississippi River's environment, while allowing a balanced use of the shoreline. It is the policy concerning private exclusive use of Corps of Engineers owned property from Guttenburg, Iowa, to Saverton, Missouri. Private exclusive use involves placing private recreational structures or pursuing certain activities along Corps shorelines that are limited to the individual and are usually not available to the general public. The SMP discusses conditions and restrictions of such private exclusive use.

There are currently 325 Shoreline Use Permits and/or Special Use Licenses under management for shoreline and river access related private structures. This plan does not apply to the Corps administered cottage sites, residential leases, commercial marina, or navigation activities.

The SMP allocates the Corps-owned shoreline, Pools 11-22, into four classifications where private recreational structures/activities will either be prohibited or allowed. These shoreline classifications are incorporated into the Rock Island Districts' Land Use Allocation Plan (LUAP) for the Mississippi River Project. Shoreline Use Classifications include:

  1. Limited Development Area (LDA) - The only classification where new permit/licenses may be issued to authorize private exclusive use.
  2. Public Recreational Area - Shorelines managed by a governmental entity, commercial concessionaire or non-profit organization. Private structures are prohibited within these areas.
  3. Prohibited Access Area - Shoreline areas allocated for the protection of the public's safety or security of government installations. Generally located around locks, dams, spillways, or government storage areas. Private structures are prohibited within these areas.
  4. Protected Shoreline Area - Shoreline areas designated to maintain or restore aesthetic, fish and wildlife, cultural or other environmental values. These areas also may be designated to protect unstable shorelines from erosion or to prevent development in areas that are subject to excessive erosion. No private exclusive use is allowed with the exception of those authorized at the time of implementation of the SMP in 1989.


Master Plan: The Mississippi River Project is the in the process of revising the Master Plan (MP) and SMP. The Master Plan is a planning document for Recreation, Cultural, and Natural Resource Management. The SMP is a separate but associated Plan. The Mississippi River Project Master Plan has not been revised as a whole document since the early 1970s with the LUAP being the most recent major update in 1989. Since that time there have been changes that warrant revisions to include, federal policies, Corps regulation/guidance and recreational use trends to name a few.

Shoreline Management Plan: During four initial public scoping meeting for the MP, public input was also requested for the 1989 SMP. Coordination and draft writing began on the SMP in FY 2018.


The MP public comment period is complete and scheduled to be finalized in early FY 2022. An updated of the SMP will be coordinated in FY2022 with the public through posting the revised plan to the internet and seeking public comments.

Associated Activities

Encroachments including Pool 13, Carroll County, Illinois and Pool 22, Marion County, Missouri: At this time, the Corps are in the process of documenting, researching, and addressing encroachments in pools 11-22. Work continues on encroachments in the Thomson, IL area Pool 13 Tracts FI- 113, 118-120, and 126. Additionally, the Corps is investigating suspected encroachments north of Hannibal, Missouri including Tracts FM-060-068. Some of these have or may involve congressional inquiry. Examples include living spaces of houses, covered porches, patios and other structures built on federal property. The general policy of the Army and Corps of Engineers is to require removal of encroachments, restoration of the premises, and collection of appropriate administrative costs and fair market value for the term of the unauthorized use. Exceptions to removal are granted only in very specific circumstances as the lands were acquired for Project purposes; permitting private use from an encroachment action is contrary to public use of these lands and protection of resources in the public trust; and permitting encroachments to remain or disposing of land may cause future encroachers to perceive standing for similar allowances. Most trespasses and encroachments have been removed from Pool 13 Tracts FI-113 to 126 in FY 2020 after contact was made with the responsible parties. The Corps will be notifying encroaching parties in Pool 22 along Tracts 060-068 in FY22. The Corps also anticipates reviewing and addressing numerous encroachments in the Bellevue, Iowa area in 2022.

POOL 13, Carroll County, Illinois RM 530, Government Tract FI-114: This area is designated as Protected Shoreline due to the unstable, steep, sandy, and highly erodible bank. This tract represents one of the few remaining shoreline areas under federal control in this stretch of Mississippi River Pool 13 that has not been heavily impacted by development. The adjacent privately owned property has been developed and removed from agricultural use. Homeowners and prospective buyers have contacted the Corps wanting to 'develop' government land for river access and placement of permanent structures and docks. Permission for development has not been given due to the area not being 'zoned' for development under the SMP and due to the fragile nature of the natural resources in this area. The Public will have the opportunity to comment on the SMP draft for additional areas for structure placement.

Cultural Resources: Erosion and human activities have threatened known cultural sites eligible for the National Register of Historic Places in Pool 13 (Thomson, IL) and Pool 18 (Keithsburg, IL). These cultural sites are currently being monitored and plans are being developed to protect these sites for future damage. Cultural sites located along the shoreline are a major consideration on Shoreline Management zoning and classification. Future request for development along the shoreline may be denied due to potential impact to cultural sites. Currently there are 285 known cultural sites list for the Mississippi River Project.

Additional Information


SI - Special Interest

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FY 2021 Allocation


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Major Work Item Prior Fiscal Year

FY 2021: The Project moved forward with compliance inspections of 325 Shoreline permit/license sites to ensure structures meet conditions, Title 36 citation authority regulations, and is safe for the public. We are working with our Real Estate office toward aligning permit and license end dates to cycle with the same start and end dates for greater program efficiency. Tracts FM 060-068 in Missouri were surveyed for boundary monument locations and several encroachments were found. Work continued on removal and restoration of encroachments in Tracts FI 113 – 126 near Thomson, IL. Nearly all trespasses have been removed from this area and most encroachments resolved except for some portions of livable space, septic tanks, and other items built on public lands without permission. The District held a public comment period for the Mississippi River Project Master Plan in July and August. There were very few public comments despite submitting press releases, posting for public notice, notifying the Project Master Plan email list, notifying adjacent municipalities and counties, and completing several media interviews.

Major Work Item Current Year

FY 2022: Work is moving forward on compliance inspections of 325 Shoreline permit/license sites to ensure structures meet conditions, Title 36 citation authority regulations, and is safe for the public. We are pursuing compliance on unauthorized structures at sites and unpaid permits, administering renewal of 1/3 of permits and licenses, addressing trespass, and working with Real Estate towards resolving major encroachments in general on Project lands with a current focus area of Thomson, IL and Hannibal, MO. Prepare final MP draft for signature. Revise SMP draft and complete a comment period in FY22.