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Norfork Lake Master Plan Revision

General Information

The Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Little Rock District, has revised the Norfork Lake Master Plan. 

The Master Plan guides the management of the government lands around the lake.  The Master plan affects future management of natural resources and recreational opportunities to ensure the sustainability of Norfork Lake.

The Master Plan revision has classified land and water usage across the project.  Auxiliary plans such as the Operational Management Plan and Shoreline Management Plan are developed and operate under the umbrella of the Master Plan. This is your opportunity to let USACE know how you would like the lake to be managed for the future.

The planning process included an analysis of potential effects on the natural and social environment, including fish and wildlife, recreation opportunities, economics, land use, cultural and historical resources, aesthetics, and public health and safety.

What is a Master Plan?

A Master Plan is the guidance document that describes how the resources of the lake will be managed in the future and provides the vision for how the lake should look in the future.  The Master Plan classifies land for types of uses such as ecological sensitive, fish & wildlife management, high density recreation, project operations, and low-density recreation.  The Master Plan does not address the details of how shoreline use permits may be issued, however, it does classify land and water for uses that may be considered under the shoreline management program.  After the Master Plan is revised, the Shoreline Management Plan would be revised to be consistent with the goals identified in the Master Plan when funding becomes available.

Development of the revised Master Plan may include consideration of:

  • Regional and ecosystem needs
  • Project resource capabilities and suitability for various purposes
  • Public interests and desires


The Norfork Lake Master Plan Revision Goals

  • Incorporate current mapping technology and Master Plan format;
  • Incorporate current Corps policies/regulations, budget processes, business line performance measures, and priorities;
  • Address customer use trends and facility and service demands;
  • Demands on fixed resources challenge the existing master plan;
  • Address current shoreline development resulting in environmental and management issues;
  • Partners and stakeholders are engaged with the Corps and seek to increase and sustain benefits provided by the lake; 
  • To provide an alternative recreational and natural resource experience for visitors to the White River watershed projects;
  • To ensure project lands and water are not adversely impacted and maintain high quality natural resources for current and future generations;
  • To align current management practices and land classifications.

Norfork Dam is located in Baxter County, Arkansas on the North Fork River, about 4.8 miles upstream from its confluence with the White River.  The dam is approximately 12 miles southeast of Mountain Home, Arkansas.  The lake extends eastward into Fulton County, Arkansas and northward into Ozark County, Missouri.

Norfork Lake was authorized by the Flood Control Act approved 28 June 1938 (Public Law 761, 75th Congress, 3d session), as modified by the Flood Control Act approved 18 August 1941 (Public Law 228, 77th Congress, 1st session), for flood control and generation of hydroelectric power.  The inclusion of storage for municipal and industrial water supply was authorized by the Water Supply Act of 1958.

Construction of Norfork dam and appurtenant works began in spring of 1941 and was placed in operation in 1944.  Norfork Lake is one of the original six lakes developed for flood control and other purposes in the White River Basin. The project is operated for primary purposes of flood control and hydropower, with secondary consideration to water supply, recreation, and fish and wildlife. The powerhouse and switchyard were completed in October 1949.

What is NEPA?

The National Environmental Policy Act is our basic national charter for protection of the environment. It is foremost a procedural law that helps ensure that federal decision makers take a hard look at the potential effects of a proposed action and allow the public and other stakeholders to comment on the federal agency’s effects analysis and consideration of reasonable alternatives. The NEPA analysis helps these decision makers understand the environmental consequences of the alternatives in comparative form before making a decision. This “hard look” is informed by the public and other stakeholders, starting with a project or study’s scoping phase.

graphic describing the national environmental policy act
* click the image to enlarge 

The environmental review process that accompanies Corps planning studies and its value to the public are not always easy to understand. Recognizing this, and to help the public and organizations effectively participate in federal agency environmental reviews, the Council on Environmental Quality wrote the informational A Citizen’s Guide to the NEPA