THE BULL SHOALS LAKE SHORELINE
Understand the privileges and regulations of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' impoundment at Bull Shoals Lake, and the origin of the term "Take Line" and others like it.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers impoundments such as lakes Norfork and Bull Shoals were constructed primarily for purposes of flood control with power generation as an added justification. In order to accomplish this, it was necessary for the government to take the land, either through negotiated purchase or condemnation (exercising their right of eminent domain). Thus, the reservoir boundary created by these actions has become known as the “Government Take Line”. In fact, the fee simple title acquired to these properties has caused the Corps of Engineers to dub this perimeter as the “U.S. Government Fee Taking Line.” That’s the REAL name.
This same perimeter is often referred to as the “Government Shoreline”, the “Flood Pool”, the “Government Strip”, and the “Corps Line”.
At normal pool, this line’s distance from the water varies from a few yards to about three miles. On Bull Shoals the line goes through five counties in Missouri and Arkansas for a total of more than 1,000 miles. You can hike the whole perimeter without trespassing. Be sure and bring a sack lunch.
Boat docks are only permitted at designated spots on the lake-shore, amounting to about 10% of the shoreline. The Mountain Home office of the Corps handles application for these.
Other than a few restricted spots such as Corps parks, wildlife refuges, and marina leases, this shoreline land, which amounts to tens of thousands of acres, is available for use by the public. Hiking, hunting, looking for arrowheads, and harvesting wild mushrooms and berries are all permitted activities. If you own property adjacent to this take line, you can apply for a permit from the Corps to put a six foot wide footpath to the lake for your own use. No new roads to the lake can be built, but existing ones can be used.
More information, including printed pamphlets, is available from the Corps office in Mountain Home, AR.