XIII. Law Enforcement Assessment

Law enforcement will be a major component of resource management. Directed and random patrols will be relied upon for both deterrence and apprehension. The protection of resources and the safety of persons using those resources will be paramount in all enforcement activities. Authorized uses will be regulated by law enforcement officers to encourage greater voluntary compliance. Laws and regulations will be enforced.

The following addresses the main issues for which the Law Enforcement Division will be responsible and identifies major enforcement needs to enhance public safety, as well as to protect the natural resources. As the management plan evolves, needs and areas of responsibility will be identified.

A. Personnel

Current Personnel

SCDNR law enforcement officers assigned to Oconee and Pickens counties are responsible for working the Jocassee Gorges property.

Enforcement personnel assigned to Oconee County consist of four officers. These officers are responsible for enforcement on approximately 5,000 acres of Jocassee Gorges property and 10,000 acres of Bad Creek property within the Jocassee Gorges Project. Oconee officers also patrol 85,000 acres of National Forest lands in the WMA program, outside of Jocassee Gorges. In addition, their patrol duties also include all the private lands and public waters of Jocassee, Keowee and Hartwell lakes within the boundaries of Oconee County.

Four Pickens County law enforcement officers are responsible for patrolling approximately 27,000 acres of Jocassee Gorges property. In addition to Jocassee Gorges property, Pickens County officers are responsible for 14,000 acres of DEC property (not in Jocassee Gorges), over 4,000 acres of Clemson University property and all private lands and public waters of Keowee and Jocassee lakes within the boundaries of Pickens County.

This small group of officers may be augmented on occasion by temporary assignments of personnel from other counties for special patrols and operations. Deputy law enforcement officers also assist on specialized patrols. SCDNR personnel with Deputy Law Enforcement Officer commissions, who work in the area on a routine basis, will work with the Law Enforcement Division to ensure enforcement of regulations.

Officers working Jocassee Gorges property routinely remain in these areas for assigned work periods because of mountain roads and terrain that require slow travel by four-wheel-drive vehicles. This slow response time limits their ability to answer calls in other areas of the assigned county. Daily patrols by district officers cannot be accomplished efficiently because of the number of personnel and other enforcement responsibilities. The Jocassee Gorges property is normally patrolled one time weekly and daily on weekends when gates are open.

B. Training


All SCDNR law enforcement officers receive the standard 10-week police officer basic training at the Criminal Justice Academy, followed by a five-week SCDNR basic training course.

Officers assigned to the property and officers assigned to Oconee and Pickens counties will be given extensive training in search-and-rescue procedures for mountainous terrain, white-water rescue, crowd control, traffic control, identifying plant and animal species, use of specialized equipment, horseback riding, and canine training.

C. Traditional Fish and Wildlife Enforcement

SCDNR officers assigned to this area are currently responsible for enforcing all state laws and regulations that pertain to this area. The following activities are currently monitored on the properties.

1) Hunting

Laws pertaining to big game (deer, turkey and bears) and small game (squirrels, raccoons and migratory birds) are presently enforced on the properties. Enforcement of all wildlife-related laws will be a primary responsibility.

2) Fishing

Extensive efforts currently emphasize enforcement of laws pertaining to the areas trout fisheries.

a) Trout Streams

Enforcement responsibilities consist of checking licenses, creel and possession limits, use of illegal bait, and size limits.

b) Jocassee Lake

This lake is the largest lake trout fishery in the state. Enforcement responsibilities consist of checking licenses, creel and possession limits, size limits and enforcing the regulation concerning the illegal use of baits.

3) Backpacking (Hiking)

Present enforcement responsibilities include patrolling the Foothills Trail, scenic waterfalls, and numerous walking trails. Officers primary task consists of performing search-and-rescue operations for lost or injured hikers.

4) Campers

Primitive camping areas are located throughout the properties. SCDNR officers are currently tasked with the responsibilities of enforcing camping regulations that pertain to campers using non-designated areas.

5) Wildlife and Outdoor Photography/Bird-Watching

Enforcement responsibilities include performing search-and-rescue operations for missing outdoor photographers and bird watchers who get lost in remote areas such as Jumping Off Rock. Currently no laws or regulations exist concerning this group of outdoor enthusiasts.

6) Rock Climbing

Past enforcement responsibilities consisted of performing search-and-rescue operations when these individuals became lost or injured. Since rock climbing and rappelling will be prohibited on Jocassee Gorges, future efforts will involve monitoring for compliance.

7) Recreational Riding of OHVs

OHV use consists of four-wheelers, two-wheel dirt bikes, and four-wheel drive vehicles. The improper use of vehicles has been and continues to be a major enforcement problem in the mountain areas of Jocassee Gorges. Traditional use of off-highway vehicles on non-designated areas can degrade native trout waters, wildlife food plots, plantings, and wildlife habitat. Destruction of gates and signs designating closed areas for vehicles constitutes major enforcement problems currently for all officers enforcing this area. Many man hours are expended patrolling the Jocassee Gorges area for violations of closed roads and intentional destruction of gates and signs.

Current law needs to be changed to give the SCDNR the authority to enforce all laws and regulations that apply to WMA lands. Also, WMA Regulation 123.94 (#14) needs to be repealed with the appropriate penalty section.

D. Search and Rescue


The Law Enforcement Division of the SCDNR is a public safety entity responsible for search and rescue of missing persons.

Traditional Rescues

The types of search-and-rescue missions should not change with the expansion of the use of the property; however, the number of rescues will probably increase.


All the necessary equipment such as four-wheel-drive vehicles, four-wheelers, radio equipment, helicopter, horses, canines, and rappelling equipment will be needed to perform these rescue operations.

One of the main items of equipment needed to perform these search-and-rescue operations is the SCDNR's helicopter. The department's chief pilot will be designating helicopter landing sites for possible consideration in future development of these properties. The assigned officers should receive some specific training as helicopter spotters, which will further enhance their value as observers and coordinators during the on-area flights. Climbing clubs and/or military experts will be used to assist in search-and-rescue operations for which officers have not received extensive training (i.e. mountain climbing, rappelling).

E. Property Crime


Common types of vandalism that presently occur are the destruction of gates, signs and trail markers, and the painting of graffiti on rocks and scenic overlooks.


Currently there is a problem of theft of personal equipment of hunters, backpackers, and fishermen.

Destruction of Roads

Currently there is a major problem of off-road vehicles, horses, etc. causing extensive damage to the road system.


Illegal dumping and indiscriminate littering pose a major problem.

Additional manpower will be needed to deter these activities, while electronic monitoring equipment may be of help in some instances. Saturation patrols will be organized utilizing additional SCDNR manpower, as well as other law enforcement agencies' personnel.

F. Liaison with Other Divisions/Agencies

The district captain, unit supervisor, and local SCDNR officers will work closely with other divisions in writing regulations, closing roads, setting seasons, etc. Regular meetings will be held to coordinate and cultivate good planning and communications.

Oconee and Pickens Counties' sheriffs' departments, SCFC and SCPRT presently have a good working relationship with the SCDNR. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the two sheriffs' offices, SCFC, SCPRT, local rescue squads, etc. may be established to reduce potential conflicts and formalize assistance that will be provided, especially relating to some of the activities in which the different entities would be involved. These would include search-and-rescue missions, thefts, vandalism, illegal drug use, underage drinking, and cultivation of marijuana.

G. Equipment

Resources Available

All SCDNR officers patrolling Jocassee Gorges area are assigned four-wheel-drive vehicles. Four-wheel-drive is necessary to effectively patrol all areas of this property. More than 90 percent of the public entering Jocassee property operate four-wheel drive vehicles. All-terrain four-wheelers are assigned to officers in Oconee and Pickens Counties. The vehicles are used to work remote, off-road areas of Jocassee Gorges to apprehend subjects driving behind closed gates, conduct search-and-rescue operations, enforce the removal of marijuana plants, investigate baiting areas, and apprehend non-resident hunters crossing over the South Carolina-North Carolina line in remote areas.

At least two all-terrain four-wheelers and boats will need to be assigned and possibly located on-site for quick emergency response. All of the officers assigned to the two counties presently have similar vehicles assigned that are used throughout the entire work area.

Radio Equipment

Communication by radio is sometimes difficult and requires officers to climb or drive to higher elevations to talk to Columbia and Greenville radio stations on Caesars Head repeater. Long Mountain repeater in Oconee County has been and will remain the primary channel for officers working in remote areas of Jocassee Gorges properties. All employees and other individuals that work the two-county area presently have various means of communications. It is imperative that the sheriffs' departments, local rescue squads, other divisions, and other agencies involved in the properties have a similar and compatible radio communication system. If manpower is added, each additional officer will require mobile units and walkie talkies. Additionally, officers patrolling these areas should be issued cellular phones to enhance the communication possibilities.

Surveillance Equipment

The purchase of electronic monitoring equipment will enhance and improve enforcement abilities in areas where 24-hour presence cannot be accomplished and will allow officers to strategically locate cameras in areas of high vandalism. This equipment is fairly expensive. However, the results should justify the expense.

Alert System

This area may be suitable for a recently developed Portable Audible Locator (PAL) system for search-and-rescue missions. This has been an effective tool in locating lost hikers, hunters and anglers in the Ocala National Forest in Florida. The information on this system will be forthcoming.