Encroachments & Trespass
What is an encroachment? An encroachment pertains to a structure or improvement built, installed, or established which interferes or potentially interferes with real estate interests of the United States without prior written permission from the District Engineer. Examples of encroachments include, but are not limited to, buildings of any type, roads, septic tanks, fences, boat ramps or other structure that extends over, across, in or upon public lands and waters. When determining encroachments, the destruction, injury, defacement, removal or any alteration of public property including natural formations, historical and archaeological features and vegetative growth is also considered.
What is a trespass? A trespass is unauthorized transient use and occupancy such as but not limited to livestock grazing, mowing, planting, cultivation and harvesting of crops, tree farms, citrus groves, timber cutting and removal, and excavation work.
Why Worry About Encroachments & Trespass?
Here are a few reasons for not using public land for private exclusive use:
Incurring the expense to remove an item of encroachment or trespass from Government property.
Encroachments and trespass are documented by the Corps and can be recorded in the county courthouse with the property deeds. Most lending institutions will not proceed with a loan if such a condition exists. Many adjacent land-owners wishing to sell their home and property with a “cloud” on their deeds are usually disappointed with delays and additional cost.
Being subject to a citation. In cases when a landowner will not remove and refuses to take action to resolve the encroachment or trespass, a citation may be issued. The citation involves a monetary fine and may result in a mandatory appearance in a United States Magistrate Court.
Repeated trespass or failure to com-ply with requests to remove encroachments may result in the termination of any permit, license, lease, etc.
If You Have An Encroachment or Trespass
If you own property next to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project and have items of personal property that are encroaching or trespassing upon public lands, please remove them or contact the Project Office and make an appointment to meet with a member of the Park Ranger staff. A Park Ranger will meet with you on site; discuss the options available, and work with you to take action necessary to resolve the encroachment or trespass.
Lake Okeechobee and the Okeechobee Waterway shares many miles of common property lines with neighboring property owners. The Corps has initiated an ambitious program to ensure boundary accuracy and to survey and mark the boundaries with a system that is easily identified and recognizable. This program also ensures that property lines are inspected and re-verified. If you are a neighbor of the Corps and would like us to identify our property lines, contact the Project Office for assistance.
If you have questions concerning property lines, encroachments or trespass contact a Park Ranger at:
Attn: Recreation & Lands Management Section
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
South Florida Operations Office
525 Ridgelawn Road
Clewiston, FL 33440