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District Projects

Shoreline Management on Mississippi River

Published March 11, 2020


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:

A. Limited Development Area (LDA) - The only classification where new permit/licenses may be issued to authorize private exclusive use.

B. Public Recreational Area - Shorelines managed by a governmental entity, commercial concessionaire or non-profit organization. Private structures are prohibited within these areas.

C. 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.

D. 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/SMP: The Mississippi River Project is the in the process of revising the Master Plan and Shoreline Management Plan.  The Master Plan is a planning document for Recreation, Cultural, and Natural Resource Management.  The Shoreline Management Plan 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 Land Use Allocation Plan (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. During four initial public scoping meeting for the MP, public input was also requested for the 1989 SMP. 

Shoreline Management Plan:  Coordination and draft writing began on the Shoreline Management Plan in FY 2018.  


The MP and SMP are scheduled to be completed in FY 2020. A revision of the MP will be coordinated in FY2020 with public meetings, posting revised drafts and hosting public open houses. 

Associated Activities

Encroachments including Pool 13, Carroll County, Illinois RM 530:  At this time, the Corps are in the process of documenting, researching, and addressing encroachments in pools 11-22. There have been numerous encroachments documented in the Thomson, IL area Pool 13 Tracts FI- 113, 118-120, and 126. Many of the encroachments are associated with permit and/or license holders. 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. Many trespasses and encroachments have been removed from Tract FI-113 in FY 2019 after contact was made with the responsible parties.  

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 Shoreline Management Plan 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 threaten 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 develop 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.

Congressional Interest

Senators: Charles Grassley (IA), Joni Ernst (IA), Richard Durbin (IL), Tammy Duckworth (IL), Roy Blunt (MO), Joshua Hawley (MO), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Ron Johnson (WI)

Representatives: IA-1 (Abby Finkenauer), IA-2 (Dave Loebsack), IL-13 (Rodney Davis), IL-17 (Cheri Bustos), IL-18 (Darin LaHood), MO-6 (Sam Graves), WI-3 (Ron Kind)


SI - Special Interest

Summarized Project Costs

Estimated Federal Cost  N/A
Estimated Non-Federal Cost  N/A
Estimated Total Project Cost  N/A
Allocations Prior to FY 2020  N/A
FY 2020 Allocation     $208,000
FY 2020 Total Capability  $208,000


Major Work Item Current Year
FY 2020: Complete compliance inspections on 325 Shoreline permit and license sites to ensure structures meet permit/license conditions. Verify the use of area meets Title 36 citation authority regulations and is safe for the public. Pursue compliance on unauthorized structures at sites and unpaid permits. Administer renewal of 1/3 of permits and licenses. Address trespass and work with Real Estate to work towards resolving major encroachments in general on Project lands.  Work specifically in the Thomson, Illinois area to systematically address numerous encroachments.  Draft SMP/MP and prepare for agency and public coordinatio