X. Power Line Right of Way (ROWs): Duke Electric Transmission

DET has retained ownership of lands needed to support transmission lines through the Jocassee Gorges area. The primary goals of these lands and their management are to ensure safe, effective, and reliable delivery of power, and to ensure the continuation of an effective vegetative cover to control erosion and protect aesthetic values.

In conjunction with these primary goals, DET and SCDNR will form a team to plan and

work cooperatively toward 1) ensuring that any allowed public access to these ROWs is compatible with the primary goals, 2) continuing to assure that DET's land and vegetative cover management are compatible with the protection of important natural resources within the ROW (i.e. gamebirds, rare species, trout streams, others), and 3) examining opportunities for SCDNR to implement resource enhancement activities.

Transmission ROWs are attractive for many types of public usage. While some of these are compatible with DET's primary goals, many are not. Many uses can be destructive and costly from the standpoint of repair of facilities or replacement of effective erosion control structures and vegetation. DET/SCDNR will work together to plan and provide for appropriate and compatible public access to and uses of the Jocassee Gorges area ROWs.

Prior to preparation of specific plans, the following will be general guidelines for resource management and public use of these ROW areas. The ROW lands within the boundaries or directly adjacent to Jocassee Gorges property will be included in the SCDNR WMA Program.

A. Public Access

Access By Motorized Vehicles, Mountain Bikes, and Horses will not be allowed except on designated trails crossing the ROW's. Access roads and trails to the ROWs will be gated or otherwise signed, and public vehicle travel and horse riding will not be permitted behind the gates or in the ROWs. Exceptions to this general item (regarding motorized vehicles, mountain bikes, horses) may occur following development and implementation of appropriate plans and actions by DET and SCDNR to insure that these public users stay on specified roadways, trails, etc. within the ROW. Foot travel will be allowed.

Hunting will be allowed consistent with hunting season regulations and annually established and publicized plans and regulations determined by the DETand SCDNR. Deer stands and other structures may not be attached to power poles or towers.

B. Wildlife Management

The open, non-forested nature of ROWs in the Jocassee Gorges area provides for some unique opportunities for wildlife protection and management. The DET and SCDNR will examine such opportunities to enhance wildlife habitat, hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities associated with these ROWs.

Wildlife Protection

The DET will plan its mowing schedule for ROW vegetation management so as to reduce or eliminate impacts to ground-and shrub-nesting birds such as wild turkeys, quail, and certain songbirds (field sparrows, chats, meadow larks, etc.). The mowing work (which will generally be scheduled for late summer, fall, or winter months) will be reviewed with SCDNR biologists.

Wildlife Habitat Enhancements

DET and SCDNR will continue to work cooperatively to plan and provide for appropriate wildlife habitat enhancements. Activities may include planting and maintaining wildlife food plots; encouraging "thickets" of low-growing, fruit-producing shrubs; and placing bird boxes or other animal houses.

C. Protection of Unique Natural Resources

Unique natural resources such as rare species, and trout streams and their tributaries are protected in ROWs:

Rare Species

Prior to the construction of the existing ROWs in the Jocassee Gorges area, DET and SCDNR cooperated to complete surveys of rare species that would be within the ROW areas. Plans were put into place at that time to prevent detrimental impacts to these identified species and their surrounding habitats. These species include Oconee bells, various species of native orchids, and shrubs ranging from azaleas to witch alder, among others. These species, and their identified populations within the ROWs, are shown on work maps and will continue to receive protection in conjunction with DET's ROW management plan and any public access that is allowed under the DET/SCDNR plans for the ROWs.

Trout Streams

Prior to the construction of the existing ROWs, DET and SCDNR cooperated to identify all trout streams and important tributaries that potentially could be impacted by the ROWs and to develop plans to avoid impacts to these important resources. This was accomplished through unique siting and construction techniques developed by DET, in cooperation with SCDNR and other resource agencies, for the mountainous Jocassee landscape. As a result, significant protective woodland buffers have remained established around trout streams along the ROW routes. These continue to provide a canopy to shade the streams and help protect the streams from any sedimentation caused by ROW construction or other activities. These streams, and their protection, will continue to be a focal point as DET and SCDNR develop additional plans regarding the management of these ROWs.

D. Management Planning Process and Schedule for the ROWs

Staff from SCDNR and DET will be appointed, and they will serve as contacts to 1) establish a core DET/SCDNR team, and 2) schedule meetings of this team to initiate further development of a DET/SCDNR plan for ROW management in the Jocassee Gorges area that addresses pertinent topics.