Know Your Boundaries: Encroachment and Boundary FAQ 


Facts about Encroachments and the Shoreline Management Program

The Mississippi River Project, Natural Resource Management Section, manages over 2,000 miles of shoreline from Guttenberg, Iowa to Saverton, Missouri.  These shorelines include land in the states of Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin.  Under the guidance of the Shoreline Management Program, we must use sound management practices to protect and preserve the project resources for future generations, while providing quality recreation opportunities for today’s visitors.  Consideration must also be given to possible conflicts of use between the general public and the owners of private property adjacent to the government land managed by the Mississippi River Project.

In keeping with the environmental stewardship, navigation, and recreation missions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, this information is designed to acquaint adjoining property owners, residents and other interested persons with the rules and regulations that apply to the management of public lands at the Mississippi River Project.  Maintaining the integrity of the Mississippi River Project’s purposes and stewarding public resources is a primary consideration in the Corps public land management.  We look forward to working with you to preserve the use and enjoyment of the river, lands and water by present and future generations.

What is an encroachment?  An encroachment is the placement, construction, or continued existence of privately owned property on, under, in or over public lands without prior written permission of the Corps’ District Engineer or his representative.  Also included is the destruction, injury, defacement, removal or any alteration of public property including natural formations, historical and archaeological features, and vegetative growth.  Some examples of encroachments are buildings of any type, roads, septic tanks, fences, tree cutting, clear cutting or any actions that alter public lands.

Why worry about encroachments? Why should an adjacent landowner worry about encroachments?  Here are a few reasons for not using public land for your private exclusive use: Incurring the expense to remove an item of encroachment from Government property. Being subject to a citation.  In cases when a landowner will not remove an encroachment or refuses to take action to resolve the encroachment, a citation may be issued.  The citation could involve a monetary fine and/or appearance before a federal magistrate.

What if I have an encroachment?  If you own property next to the government lands managed by the Mississippi River Project and have items of personal property that are encroaching upon public lands, contact the Shoreline Management Ranger and make an appointment.  The ranger will meet with you on site, discuss available options and work with you to resolve the encroachment.  In some instances, these meetings will prevent a landowner from making a costly and time-consuming mistake.  Under the Shoreline Management Program, some structures may be allowed with Special Use Licenses and Shoreline Use Permits.  Typical items that are allowed are boat docks, boatlifts, steps, storage sheds and erosion control structures.  Any and all items must be approved prior to installation.   Items are only allowed if the areas land classification is a Limited Development Area.  Call to receive an application.

What do I need to know as an adjacent property owner and resident? Lands purchased by the Federal Government were acquired to enable the Project’s mission.  The boundaries defining this public land may be marked by monuments that are elevated, buried, or set at ground level. Orange carsonite markers are placed at most monuments to represent the boundary.   Not all boundary monuments have adjacent carsonite posts.  Monuments and boundary markers are sometimes damaged, moved, or altered by humans and natural occurrences.  Much of the Project lands are also part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's national wildlife refuge system and state department of natural resources wildlife management areas.  Please keep an eye out for other managing agency signs in those areas along the boundary.  It is illegal to disturb boundary markers and monumentation. 

It is the responsibility of the adjacent landowner to confine their activities to their own property and not trespass or encroach onto public land just as they wouldn't on their neighbors land.  If the boundary is unknown or not clearly identified, the interested party should obtain the services of a qualified land surveyor to locate the boundaries of their property and avoid trespassing on public property.  Information regarding the boundary such as maps and tract information can be provided through requests to the Project office.  The Corps works yearly on posting the boundary through inspections, signage, and surveys in select areas.   We welcome any questions regarding the boundary and we look forward to working with you to preserve the Project mission and resources in the public trust.  For more information on regulations pertaining to Corps of Engineers land, please refer to CFR Title 36 Chapter 327.

Questions? If you have questions about the location of the boundary line near your site please contact the Mississippi River Project Office.  A field appointment with a Corps ranger can be scheduled to assist you in locating the boundary line or in answering any other questions you may have concerning encroachments and our Shoreline Use Permit/Special Use License Program. To request an application or inquire about the Shoreline Management Program contact: 
Mississippi River Project 
Attn: Shoreline Management 
P.O. Box 534 
Pleasant Valley, Iowa 52767 

E-mail: Shoreline Management