The Jocassee Gorges property is positioned on the Blue
Ridge Escarpment, a physiographic region important for its abundant
rainfall, high-gradient streams and unique habitats. It is at the northern
or southern range limit of numerous plant and animal species. Several
species endemic to the region are found within its boundaries. The
property has 171 known occurrences of rare, threatened or endangered plant
and animal species, according to the department's Heritage Trust database.
This is by far the highest density of such occurrences in South Carolina;
therefore, the property is of highest priority for protection as a large
area project by the South Carolina Heritage Trust Program.
The property will be evaluated for possible dedication
as a Heritage Preserve under the South Carolina Heritage Trust Program.
Options include dedicating all, portions, or none of the 32,000 acre
tract. The Heritage Trust enabling legislation stipulates that no more
than 100,000 acres may be acquired for dedication throughout the state,
and the current amount of dedicated acreage is approximately 75,000. The
merits of using a substantial portion of the remaining acreage allocation
at Jocassee Gorges will need to be weighed against the anticipated needs
of the Heritage Trust Program for present and future projects in other
locations in the state. Regardless, this management plan will provide
protection for rare, threatened and endangered species just as would a
management plan written under the Heritage Trust Program.
The size of this tract and its position among other
public properties with substantial stands of hardwood and pine-hardwood
forest contribute further to its significant ecological, scenic and
recreational attributes. Jocassee Gorges lands harbor a substantial
portion of the State's trout streams, including important native brook
trout habitat. The property also provides essential habitat for the
region's black bear population. Because of its size and position on the
Blue Ridge Escarpment, the property provides important habitat for eight
species of neotropical migratory songbirds considered by ornithologists to
be species of concern.
The primary management objective for the Jocassee
Gorges property is to maintain the natural character of the area while
protecting, maintaining, restoring and or enhancing significant plant,
fish and wildlife communities and their habitats. The secondary objective
is to provide for recreation that is compatible with the area's natural
The Jocassee Gorges property provides tremendous
opportunities for scientific study and surveys. Some funding for
biological research and inventory will be included in the management
budget, and partnerships will be established with the region's research
organizations to carry out a program of studies centering on the property.
In addition, federal and other research funds will be sought as
appropriate to support short- and long-term studies in the area.
A detailed forest management plan compatible with the
objectives stated above will be developed in cooperation with the South
Carolina Forestry Commission (SCFC) following acquisition of the property.
The SCDNR will conduct timber harvesting operations to enhance habitat and
biodiversity and to sustain forest health. The SCDNR will not conduct
commercial logging operations or other resource extraction methods solely
to generate funds for management purposes. A portion of the property will
be reserved for restoring and maintaining late-successional forests. The
forest management plan will identify tracts of planted pine that may be
converted to pine-hardwood or mixed-hardwood stands at appropriate times.
The potential for use of rotational timber harvesting on suitable sites to
maintain various successional stages beneficial to targeted wildlife
species and forest health will also be addressed in the forest management
plan. This will occur at suitable sites using harvesting and regeneration
practices appropriate for Jocassee Gorges objectives. No timber will be
harvested until a detailed forest management plan has been made available
for public review and then is approved by the SCDNR Board.
Watershed management practices will be used to protect
lakes, perennial streams and their intermittent tributaries, springs,
wetlands and other valuable public resources. Riparian and shoreline
buffer zones of appropriate sizes will be established and protected from
land-disturbing activities except those necessary to manage the property.
Traditional recreational uses of the property such as
hunting, fishing, and hiking will be continued. Access for public use will
be maintained and improved. New access areas, activities and facilities
may be proposed and evaluated on a case by case basis for compatibility
with the primary management objective.
Management practices to support traditional uses will
include maintaining a suitable distribution of forest successional stages
and stocking of native or non-native fish in suitable waters and in
appropriate sizes and numbers. Survey and inventory of fish and wildlife
populations and other management practices that are judged necessary to
maintain or enhance sport or nongame species populations will be conducted
in suitable areas. Streams supporting trout populations will be given
priority for management to maintain aquatic communities.
Law enforcement will be a major component of the
overall management plan. 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