XV. Budgetary Issues

A. Management Funding for Jocassee Gorges/Trust Fund

Legislation is currently progressing through the South Carolina General Assembly that will create the Jocassee Gorges Trust Fund. The trustees would be the SCDNR Board. The trustees would assist and oversee the raising of an endowment sufficient to meet the ordinary expenses of managing the property. Certain capital expenditures could be made from the fund, but the principal obligation of the trustees will be to maintain a permanent balance sufficient to provide operating expenses and allow for inflation. The SCDNR Board has established an advisory committee to help with the fundraising task and has initiated a search for a full-time fundraiser.

Securing management funding for Jocassee Gorges will offer an immediate challenge to SCDNR. Staffing the area with management and law enforcement personnel, procuring necessary heavy equipment to maintain the property, and other management-related needs will be expensive. Access road repairs and maintenance represent the most immediate need and expense to SCDNR. Preliminary estimates for first-year road repairs and upgrades exceed one half million dollars. It will be essential initially to form cooperative agreements with DEC, CRI, SCFC, SCDOT and other agencies to conduct road repairs during the interim while management funding is being established. SCDNR will explore the opportunity to train appropriate staff in mountain road repairs, maintenance, and erosion control under agreement with the aforementioned.

Short-term personnel, equipment, and operation and maintenance needs for protection and management of Jocassee Gorges property are presented (Appendix A-6). Interim planning and cooperative agreements will be required to maintain the property until adequate management funding is secured.

B. User Fees

Overwhelming support of user fees to support management of Jocassee Gorges was voiced by constituents during the public meeting process. User fees are generally implemented for services provided. Current regulations restrict SCDNR from assessing user fees. Legislation is pending authorizing a user fee for SCDNR property. Depending on the outcome of this legislation, user fees may be considered in the future as a source of revenue for management services.