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Master Plan Updates

The Cold Brook and Cottonwood Springs Project(s) Master Plans are final.  please Contact Us.

Project Master Plans

Master Plans are a vital tool to guide the responsible stewardship and management of public lands administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Master Plans for each Civil Works Project provide the direction for appropriate land management regarding the use, development, enhancement, protection, and conservation of the natural, cultural, and man-made resources at these project lands.

These documents provide an inventory of land resources, land classifications for management, public recreational opportunities and resources, anticipated influences on project operations and maintenance, and an evaluation of existing and future needs required to provide a balanced management plan to improve outdoor recreation opportunities and sustain natural resources.

Please note that Master Plans do not address the technical aspects of water management, flood risk management, or water supply – Master Plans are intended to be a public lands management document.


Master Plans Under Revision

The Omaha District is currently revising the following Master Plans, for more information please scroll to bottom of page:

  • Papillion Creek and Tributaries Lakes Project, Nebraska (Papio Lakes) (Completing Fiscal Years (FY) 2020-2021)
  • Gavins Point Dam and Lewis & Clark Lake, Nebraska and South Dakota (Completing Fiscal Years (FY) 2021-2022)

Tri-Lakes, Colorado Dams

Pipestem Dam and Lake project: James River Basin, North Dakota

Pipestem Dam and Lake project: James River Basin, North Dakota: Updated master plan, design memorandum JP-2C    

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a Master Plan?

A Master Plan describes how the Corps, and the Corps’ outgrants (lease holders) will manage the lands that are part of the Civil Works Project. Major topics covered and identified in the plan include:

  • The unique and important factors for this Project that influence management.
  • The natural resources on these lands – including soil classifications, vegetation, threatened & endangered species, and fish and wildlife habitat.
  • The cultural and historical resources on these lands – including any historic properties, cultural sites or areas of cultural significance.
  • The recreational resources on these lands – what recreational activities are compatible with the resource and the project’s purposes, and what recreational opportunities are desired by the public.

Once the resources are identified and described, the Master Plan describes the goals and objectives for the Corps and our land management partners to properly manage these identified resources for the next 20-25 years, and supplementing or revising as necessary. Based on these goals and objectives, the current use of the land, existing regulations, and public input, each parcel of land is assigned a land use classification.

Land Use Classifications are the critical guide to determine the main authorized use for each parcel of land (ex. Wildlife management area, high-density recreation, environmentally-sensitive or dam operations). These land classifications assist our land managers in ensuring the management of these areas, and any future development is in compliance with the land classifications to ensure proper resource protection and allow for public recreational use.

Master plans do not:

  • Deal with details of design or administration of lands – the Master Plan is a high-level, conceptual document.
  • Address dam operations, levees, navigation or flood risk reduction operations.
  • Make large-scale changes to how lands are currently managed; there are restrictions and regulations that guide the management of public lands – however with the current Master Plans being so outdated, a need to reflect current regulations, policies and best management practices are needed.

What Land Classifications are there?

  • Project Operations – areas utilized for the operation of the dam and related structures or administrative offices and maintenance facilities.
  • High-Density Recreation – areas utilized for developed public recreation such as multipurpose trails, playgrounds, playfields (baseball/softball fields, soccer fields, etc.), picnic shelters, overlooks, developed campgrounds, fishing piers and boat ramps.
  • Multiple Resource Management – this classification is broken into four sub-categories:
    • Low Density Recreation – areas managed for recreation but primitive and limited development, such as gravel/dirt trails, or in coordination with wildlife viewing.
    • Future/Inactive Recreation Lands – lands currently closed to high-density recreation or may be opened and developed at a later time.
    • Wildlife Management – areas managed in direct support of wildlife management.
    • Vegetative Management – areas managed in direct support for conservation of certain plant species types.
  • Environmentally Sensitive Area – areas that have critical habitat for threatened and endangered species, or unique characteristics that require the area to be preserved and limit any future development.
  • Mitigation – areas acquired for habitat or other purposes to mitigate the effects of the reservoir.


Papillion Creek and Tributaries Lakes Project, Nebraska  (Papio Lakes):

Papio Lakes Master Plan Update

Project Name: Papillion Creek and Tributaries Lakes Project, Nebraska

Location: Papillion Creek Basin, Omaha Metropolitan Area, in Douglas, Sarpy, and Washington Counties in Nebraska.

Lakes in the Papio Lakes Project:

  • Dam Site No. 11 – Cunningham Lake
  • Dam Site No. 16 – Standing Bear Lake
  • Dam Site No. 18 – Zorinsky Lake
  • Dam Site No. 20 – Wehrspann Lake

Current Management of the Papio Lakes:

Cunningham Lake, Standing Bear Lake, and Zorinsky Lake are managed under a parks and recreation lease from the Department of the Army to the Omaha Department of Parks, Recreation, and Public Property.

Wehrspann Lake is managed under a parks and recreation lease from the Department of the Army to the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District.

Why does the Master Plan need to be updated?

The Master Plans were last updated in the 1970s and 1980s – and were written prior to much of the existing development at these four lakes. Best management practices, local recreational demand and needs have changed since the 1970/80s. Additionally, these plans need to be updated to reflect current regulations, policies, and goals and objectives.

An Environmental Assessment (EA) will accompany the revised Papillion Creek and Tributaries Lakes Master Plan, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). We ask for comments from the public and stakeholders (such as community organizations or user groups) during the scoping process; the input and comments that are received will influence the decisions we make for the management of these public resources.

Current Status of Update and Revision

Phase 1, Initial Public Scoping was conducted from June 8 through July 31, 2020 where the Corps solicited comments from the general public regarding public recreational use of the lands, and protection of the resource. We also coordinated with several local, state, and other federal agencies for comments and input on the revision and update process.

Currently we are in Phase 2. We are compiling the comments received from the public, other agencies, and Tribal Governments; along with conducting background research and engagement in order to successfully update the current four (4) outdated Master Plans into one (1) regionalized Master Plan document, compliant with all necessary laws, regulations, and policies.

The Corps anticipates a Draft Document will be completed and available for public comment in Spring of 2021. Once the Draft Master Plan and Environmental Assessment (EA) is completed, a press release will be issued and the public will have an opportunity to review and provide the Corps with comments on the Draft Master Plan and EA.

For more information, please see Project Fact sheet, Public Scoping Presentation and current Master Plans at:

Gavins Point Dam and Lewis & Clark Lake, Nebraska and South Dakota (Updated info coming soon)