Richard B. Russell Dam and Lake

Shoreline Management


The Richard B. Russell lake project provides a source of recreation for more than 4 million visitors each year. With 26,650 acres of water, 26,500 acres of land and a shoreline of 540 miles, Richard B. Russell Lake is becoming a very popular public recreation lake. Sound management of this resource is necessary to protect and preserve the project for future generations while providing quality recreation opportunities for today’s visitors. Management must ensure a balance between the recreation user, the environment, and the conservation of the project resources.
Shoreline Management Policy
The Corps of Engineers seek to manage and protect the shoreline of the lake by establishing and maintaining acceptable fish and wildlife habitat, aesthetic quality and natural environmental conditions; and to promote the safe and healthful use of these shorelines for recreational purposes by the public. Considerations must also be given to possible conflicts of use between the general public and the owners of private property adjacent to the project. Use of public land by adjacent private property owners which would lead the public to believe public land is privately owned is called private exclusive use. The policy of the Chief of Engineers is that private exclusive use will not be permitted on lakes constructed after December 1974 – and Richard B. Russell falls into that category. This means that privately-owned boat docks, launching ramps, driveways, gardens, buildings, developed walkways, vista clearings, under-brushing, mowing, and other private lakeshore uses will not be permitted. This policy does not mean that landowners who share a common boundary with public property at the lake cannot use the lakeshore lands. There is no prohibition against pedestrian use of any public property at the lake except in a very few restricted areas near the dam. In this respect, adjacent landowners have the right accorded to any other member of the public, plus a private access point from their property to public land and water.
Land Retention

Corps project personnel are often asked about disposal by Corps of project lands for development, especially if any of the land is excess to project needs. At Richard B. Russell Lake, none of the project lands are considered excess to project needs because all areas are used for Richard B. Russell mitigation.

Mitigation is a term used to describe the cooperative efforts of responsible federal and state agencies to develop methods to replace or offset wildlife habitat lost because of project construction. A mitigation report for Richard B. Russell was prepared by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the provisions of the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act. The land flooded by the lake was rated on its capability to support the various species of wildlife. An interagency mitigation team determined that almost 50 percent of the habitat of the flooded land could be compensated for by intensive wildlife management of Richard B. Russell project lands. The Mitigation plan also stresses the importance of maintaining the 300 foot collar lands as an uninterrupted travel corridor for wildlife.


An encroachment on public property is defined as: the existence of any structure or item of any kind under, upon, in, or over the project lands or waters and/or the destruction, injury, defacement, removal or any alteration of public property including natural formations, historical and archaeological features, and vegetative growth.

Activities which result in encroachments are violations of Chapter 3 of Title 36, Part 327 of the Code of Regulations: “Rules and Regulations Governing Public Use of Water Resource Development Projects Administered by the Chief of Engineers.” Corps rangers may issue citations for violations of these regulations. A citation can require the appearance of the person charged with a violation to appear before a U.S. Magistrate. This situation can be avoided by good communication between adjacent landowners and the Corps representatives.

Boundary Lines

There are 280 miles of common boundary shared by the Corps and neighboring property owners. The Corps has initiated an ambitious program to ensure boundary accuracy and to mark the boundary with a system that the public can understand. To assist in identifying public property lines, “witness” trees are painted with orange paint bands along the project’s boundary lines. This program also ensures that the entire boundary is re-identified every five years.

The Corps of Engineers needs your help in preventing encroachments on public land and protecting Lake Russell’s beautiful shores. If you have any questions about boundary lines, contact the Russell Project Office. A Corps Ranger can assist you regarding encroachments or any Corps matter affecting your property. The Corps also publishes a Shoreline Management Plan to provide guidance for the protection and preservation of Lake Russell. Copies are available from the Russell Project Office.

If you have any questions about the location of the boundary line or shoreline management policies, contact the Richard B. Russell Lake Project Manager’s Office. A field appointment with a Corps ranger can be scheduled to answer any other questions you may have concerning encroachments and our shoreline management program.
Did you Know?    (Tree Facts)
  • An acre of trees can remove up to 13 tons of pollutants from the air.*
  • An acre of trees can give off enough oxygen for 18 people daily.*
  • An acre of trees can conserve up to 100 lbs. of topsoil during a 2-inch rainfall.*
  • An acre of trees can reduce cooling costs 25 percent in 90-degree weather.*
  • An acre of trees can reduce noise pollution by 50 percent.*
  • An acre of trees can provide homes for 400 species of wildlife and thousands of beneficial microorganisms.*
  • By cooling the air and ground around them, the shade from trees helps cool the Earth’s temperature (add this one).
  • Trees are good noise barriers, making you home quieter (add this one).

*From the “Plant-A-Tree Program” brochure by the U.S. Forest Service, not dated.