Resource Monitoring and Management
The Jocassee Gorges property maintains a tremendous
diversity of plant and animal communities. The property is important in
that it is a transition between piedmont and mountain habitats and
contains gorge habitats unique in the southern Appalachians. Several
endemic species are found within its boundaries.
Additionally, important populations of sport fish and wildlife occur on
the property. These wildlife and fish populations provide economically
important recreational opportunities for South Carolina sportsmen.
Reflecting a long history of human occupation, the
archaeological resources are also likely significant. Surveys to establish
baseline conditions for 1) plant, fish, and wildlife communities and
populations; 2) rare, threatened and endangered plant and animal
communities and populations; and 3) significant archaeological resources
will be a high priority.
A. Archaeological Resources and Surveys
The archaeological resources of the Jocassee Gorges are
largely unknown, although a dozen or so archaeological sites are recorded
in the boundaries of Jocassee Gorges property. SCDNR will continue to
assist the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology (SCIAA)
by digitizing archaeological site locations for the Jocassee Gorges. SCDNR
will seek a cooperative agreement with SCIAA to share information for
management planning purposes. SCDNR will also coordinate with the State
Historic Preservation Office, South Carolina Department of Archives and
History, to assure significant archaeological resources are protected.
Confidentiality of archaeological sites will be important in their
protection. Significant known archaeological resources will be protected
when feasible. An archaeological survey of the entire Jocassee Gorges
property would be appropriate. Possible funding sources may include
federal funding through the South Carolina Department of Archives and
B. Biological Surveys and Monitoring
Plants and Nongame animals
Although most of the gorges have received considerable
botanical attention, there are many smaller coves with outstanding
potential for biodiversity that have not been fully surveyed by
taxonomists. In one area, immediately adjacent to the Musterground tract,
Gaddy (1990) states that "study of the small ravine has revealed it
to be among the richest fern sites I have seen along the southern Blue
Ridge Escarpment." This site, Glade Fern Ravine (Mill Creek Area),
was deemed so important that Duke Power identified it as a significant
natural area and as of 1990 proposed to limit construction and timber
harvest activities. In addition, large areas along many of the major
ridges and slopes have been commercially harvested. These drier,
better-drained areas provide habitat for many important fern and flowering
plant groups, such as members of the composite and grass families (
Hitchcock, 1950), particularly if underlain with mafic or calcareous
substrates. The recent discovery of the federally endangered species
mountain sweet pitcher-plant (Sarracenia jonesii) in the Jocassee
area in 1996 underscores the importance of these drier sites. There are
many sparingly surveyed and even unsurveyed sites between the Toxaway and
Eastatoee drainages, as well as sites along road corridors that have not
been extensively or intensively inventoried for rare and endangered
species or for significant plant communities.
An initial objective will be to coordinate surveys of
nongame wildlife and plant species, especially in areas where such surveys
are lacking. The first stage of survey involves mapping areas that are
known to have been surveyed by a qualified botanist, aquatic entomologist,
herpetologist, etc. Mapping will involve a cooperative effort between
SCDNR, other state and federal agencies and local universities. The maps
will include known past work on terrestrial vertebrates, vascular plants
(and their communities), nonvascular plants, invertebrates and fungi. The
maps will allow managers to see gaps in surveys and pinpoint locations to
be surveyed. This information should also reveal needs for repeated
botanical surveys during different seasons, since some sites may have been
surveyed in only one season, causing species to be missed.
Development of funding and cooperative agreements or
other mechanisms to secure the necessary technical expertise will
ultimately control the rate at which nonsurveyed areas can be sampled. In
all cases, however, the starting point will be to compile data from past
research, survey and monitoring efforts. Significant occurrences will be
entered into the existing Heritage Trust database for future reference.
SCDNR, DPC, and cooperating universities will cooperate in evaluating
and/or compiling the data.
Additionally, the SCDNR will investigate the potential
for securing aerial reconnaissance imagery of the Jocassee Gorges to
produce vegetation maps that may predict locations of unique plant
communities and rare plant species habitats.
These strategies will help facilitate the development
of threatened and endangered element buffers and protection of significant
archaeological sites. Appropriate land use plans will incorporate this
Future development (i.e. trails, wildlife food plots,
parking areas, etc.) and forest management practices will be coordinated
and evaluated to assure that known, unique communities or populations of
species of concern are not adversely impacted. GIS mapping will allow
managers to avoid or tailor management practices to protect sensitive
resources. With maps of proposed activities, managers can systematically
conduct site surveys and avoid management conflicts.
Monitoring Elements, Communities, Threatened and
Endangered (T&E) Species
Monitoring of Heritage Trust elements, communities, and
threatened and endangered species will employ a variety of tools,
cooperators and strategies. The first step in development of monitoring
plans will involve the creation of a network of regional experts,
university cooperators and volunteers. Researchers or programs with
expertise in specific fields will be contacted to establish monitoring
plots for specific communities or species. An example would be to use
experts at Clemson University to establish a monitoring program for rare
or uncommon butterflies within the project area. The first phase of this
would likely require some survey work.
Indicator species, those organisms sensitive to changes
in their environment, will be designated. An example of a good potential
indicator for terrestrial species is the wood frog (Rana sylvatica),
which is found throughout the project area and is somewhat sensitive to
changes in pH and water quality. Aquatic indicators will include
caddisflies and certain fish species. Cooperative associations will be
formed and an experimental design for monitoring will be established. This
design will include species and communities to be monitored, monitoring
Midwinter surveys for bald eagles will continue every
January on Lake Jocassee as specified in guidelines for standardized
survey routes. Jumping Off Rock will be surveyed every spring for
peregrine falcon activity.
Fish Population Monitoring
Fish population sampling and monitoring will follow the
American Fisheries Society - Southern Division Trout Committee's
"Guidelines for Sampling Wadeable Trout Streams" (Moore and
Habera 1993). Under this sampling and monitoring approach, all fish
species are quantified for a given sample area producing estimates of
species composition, population densities, biomass, size distributions and
other pertinent data. Under this monitoring program, standard
representative monitoring sites are established. Data are collected for at
least two years to established baseline conditions, and then periodic
samples are taken on longer rotations to assess changes.
Historical sampling stations, where baseline data are
available, will continue to be monitored periodically (for example,
Eastatoee River drainage). In streams where data are unavailable or dated,
attempts will be made to update available data and establish a current
baseline condition (for example, Cane Creek).
Lake Jocassee is a 7,500-acre reservoir surrounded by
Jocassee Gorges property. Its fishery is estimated to contribute
approximately $750,000 annually to the local economy in direct angling
expenditures alone (gas, food, bait, lodging). Fishery biologists will
continue to monitor both the fish population in Lake Jocassee and the
recreational fishery. Many fishery monitoring and management programs are
already in place in cooperation with DPC scientists. Monitoring and
management strategies include angler creel surveys, electrofishing
surveys, hydroacoustic surveys (counts of bait fish), fish habitat
surveys, water quality surveys, fish habitat maintenance agreements,
netting surveys, trout stocking, etc.
Stream habitat will be monitored in conjunction with
fish sampling. Habitat features such as substrate and pool to riffle
ratios will periodically be evaluated. Areas of habitat deficiencies will
also be identified.
A sampling program to monitor suspended sediment,
perhaps using single-stage water bottle samplers, similar to Van Lear
(1995), should be considered during the early phases of this project. This
would help document the status of water quality and fish habitat. A
repetitive sampling system of this nature will document a baseline of
stream condition, and will provide an index for evaluating whether stream
conditions are maintained or improved.
Thermal regimes of streams will be monitored using
recording thermometers. Basic water chemistry will also be monitored on a
periodic basis in conjunction with fish population sampling.
Wildlife (Game) Population Monitoring
Various wildlife population monitoring strategies are
employed by SCDNR wildlife biologists. Black bear population levels on the
property are monitored by bait station surveys. Bear activity or
"hits" on bait stations provide a relative index of bear
population abundance in the area or region. A listing of black bear bait
station data is presented as (Appendix-Table 2). SCDNR biologists have
also worked cooperatively with Clemson University, DPC, and CRI on
research that established bear movement, habitat selection, and abundance
on the property. Two theses, "Population Dynamics and Denning Ecology
of Black Bears in the Mountains of South Carolina" by Richard D.
Willey (August 1995) and "Home Range, Movements and Habitat
utilization of Female Black bears in the Mountains of South Carolina"
by Joseph Walter Butfiloski (May 1996), were written concerning black
bears in the Jocassee Gorges. Sixty-three bears were trapped, data
collected, and the animals released unharmed on the property. These
studies determined abundance and habitat use of bears in the area and made
suggestions on habitat improvements. Results of these studies will be used
in developing detailed management activities that favor black bears. Black
bears will be an "umbrella" game species on the area. Early and
late successional habitat is important to black bears. Management for
black bear habitat needs will benefit a broad range of wildlife species.
Another wildlife population monitoring tool involves a
"scent tab" station survey of furbearing wildlife species (Roughton
and Sweeney, 1982; Johnson and Pelton, 1981). The scent station provides
biologists information to determine changes in abundance and distribution
of furbearers. This monitoring program will be applied on the Jocassee
Eastern wild turkeys in the mountain region are
monitored by late spring-summer brood surveys. SCDNR and other qualified
observers participate in the survey. Counts of turkey poults and adults
provide an index of annual turkey reproduction and population levels.
Jocassee Gorges turkey surveys are included with the Mountain Hunt Unit to
provide regional results. This is an ongoing monitoring project. Other
wildlife species such as ruffed grouse, bobwhite quail, mourning doves,
waterfowl and others may be monitored as deemed necessary.
Hard and soft mast surveys are conducted on the
Jocassee property to assess wildlife food resources. Hard mast surveys
provide an index of the relative abundance and diversity of the acorn crop
each fall. The soft mast survey provides an index of the abundance of soft
mast fruits such as blackberry, blueberry, muscadine and others. These
data provide biologists information that can be correlated with health and
dispersal of wildlife populations.
A summary of recent soft mast and bear scent station
surveys for Jocassee Gorges area is included (Appendix A-6).
Monitoring Harvest and Health of Big Game Wildlife
Harvest of big game animals, such as black bears,
white-tailed deer and wild turkeys, has historically been monitored in
conjunction with the WMA Mountain Hunt Unit. This monitoring allows
biologists to collect and/or analyze data such as numbers, sex, age and
weight and to collect samples such as blood, tissue, parasites, etc. As a
result of this monitoring biologists are able to assess population health
and formulate hunting seasons and bag limits. Harvest of big game species
on the property will continue to be monitored as deemed necessary by SCDNR.
Special emphasis will be placed on documenting black bear population
levels and harvests on the Jocassee property. Area wild turkey harvest
will continue to be monitored either by check stations and/or surveys.
Several check stations are located near the property to serve Jocassee
Gorges big game hunters. White-tailed deer harvest in the region is now
being monitored by a mail survey of license holders. Additional monitoring
for other game species may be developed.
Research and Survey Permitting
A research permitting system will be devised by SCDNR
to allow managers to accommodate work, prevent research conflicts, protect
resources of special concern, and avoid unnecessary interference with
research while conducting daily management. Permitting will require
information on the project, a timeline, contact persons, any necessary
state or federal permits (such permits are required for work with birds)
and maps of the study area. A mandatory reporting process will be
established to assure all scientific studies are available to assist SCDNR
in the management decision process and are compatible with the overall
management goals. A state-wide permitting process is already in place for
freshwater fish collections.
C. Natural Resource Management
Of the 87 "species of concern" known to occur
within the project area, only three resident species are formally listed
as endangered or threatened: the southern coal skink (Eumeces
anthracinus pluvialis), Rafinesque's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus
rafinesquii), and Eastern small-footed myotis (Myotis leibii).
Non-resident species that utilize the project area for foraging
include the federally threatened bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
and the endangered peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus).
Undoubtedly, many other species found here could become candidates for
listing in the future, depending on the course of the Endangered Species
Act and its administration.
Management of the Jocassee Gorges property will follow
a proactive agenda to assure that threatened or endangered species and
candidate species are maintained or their status improved. In many cases,
this may simply include protection through establishment of buffers. An
example will be establishing timber harvest buffers around threatened and
endangered bat (Chiroptern) roosts and ensuring that roosts are not
isolated from foraging areas. Other cases may involve active management,
such as the application of prescribed fire, to improve habitat for a
species. Scientifically based management approaches for significant
species will be applied to protect or improve their populations on
Jocassee Gorges. It is prudent and more cost effective to take steps to
secure these species now rather than waiting until they are federally
The protection, enhancement, and overall management of
coldwater trout populations in Jocassee Gorges streams will be a high
priority. The state-wide trout management plan, "The Future of Trout
in South Carolina" (Geddings 1990), will serve as primary guidance
for trout management on Jocassee Gorges property. Management and
protection of Eastern brook trout (Salvelinus fontanalis) will be
a priority. Potential brook trout restoration sites have generally been
identified. Potential restoration efforts could be described as
transplanting brook trout into available stream habitat devoid of fish, or
removal of exotic and/or native fish followed by transplant stocking
(Moore 1993). Renovation projects, if proposed, would first consider the
most environmentally sensitive techniques to accomplish the goals (ex.
electrofishing, natural waterfall barriers).
The majority of streams that maintain naturally
reproducing trout populations on Jocassee Gorges hold rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus
mykiss). Overall management in the streams on the property will
primarily be directed toward the maintenance of high quality trout
fisheries, because of their prescence as the major sportfish, their
recreational and economic importance, and their importance as
environmental indicators. Native fish species of concern will be
identified and protected.
Fish management efforts on Jocassee Gorges streams date
back at least to the 1930s when the Chief Game Warden managed trout
stocking from state and federal hatcheries. A trout stocking program
during this period was necessary to re-establish fisheries and provide
fishing opportunities following stream habitat degredation.
In more recent years, the management of the trout
stocking program has changed focus somewhat. With generally improved
habitat conditions in most streams, many headwater fisheries have been
revitalized by stocking efforts. Most headwater streams on the property
currently maintain reproducing trout populations. The primary management
emphasis now is to assure self-sustaining fisheries are maintained, and
provide seasonal fisheries for stocked trout in the lower reaches of
marginal trout streams where water temperatures or other habitat
conditions prevent natural reproduction. These lower cool-to-cold water
habitats are generally devoid of significant natural fisheries and are
dominated by nongame fishes. Sections of these habitats
are currently managed for "put-grow-and-take" and/or
"put-and-take" trout fisheries.
The hatchery-supported trout management program has
been shown to generate over 12 million dollars to the economy of South
Carolina and to provide recreation to the state's 40,000-plus trout
anglers (Duda, 1997). This program will continue on Jocassee Gorges
property. Stocking rates, species, sizes and strains stocked will be
determined by fisheries biologists with input from anglers.
Due to the severe damage to coldwater stream resources
caused by beavers (Barnes, 1994; Taylor, 1994), it will be necessary to
manage beaver populations through various means to maintain viable
coldwater trout habitat. Control methods will primarily involve land
(forest) management practices to discourage beaver colonization of trout
streams. This generally involves managing stream-side management zones,
particularly in low gradient areas, in mature or old-growth timber (Burriss
1997). Beaver trapping may also be needed in some cases.
Management planning should allow for development of
additional site(s) on the property for coldwater (trout) fish culture
should future needs dictate.
The lower section of the Eastatoee River below Robinson
Bottoms will be managed as an intensive trout management area. Angler and
fish stocking access points will be provided in three locations, and
angler trails developed, as needed, to provide effective access to
Eastatoee River. SCDNR and DPC will work cooperatively to develop these
access points, and to develop partnerships to help maintain these
Suitable sites for fishing access for the disabled are
very limited because of the rugged terrain surrounding trout streams on
the property. Nevertheless, options should be considered for development
of accessible fishing areas on trout streams where safe and feasible. An
initial, cooperative fishing area accessible to disabled anglers is
planned for development (with DPC) at Dug Mountain Bridge on Eastatoee
Supplemental Feeding Projects
Feeding programs in the Southern Appalachians are
conducted to improve growth and average size of trout in streams. Since
streams in the area are rather infertile, supplemental feeding may be
necessary in some areas to maintain fishable trout populations depending
on the findings of current studies on the Middle Saluda River (Geddings
and Rankin, 1996) and studies being conducted on N.C. trout streams (Borrawa
Instream Structure and Bank Stabilization
Instream structure habitat improvement projects may be
needed in many streams because of habitat degredation. Habitat improvement
projects involve placing logs in streams to alter the hydraulics of the
stream (Seehorn, 1992). The most common goal is to improve the pool
habitat for fish. In some cases, bank stabilization and riparian area
re-establishment projects may be initiated. These habitat improvement
projects may be used as educational demonstration projects. Examples of
these types of projects are already in place on a few Jocassee Gorges
streams and are the result of cooperation between SCDNR, Trout Unlimited,
DPC and other partners.
Wildlife Habitat and Management
SCDNR wildlife biologists will routinely monitor
wildlife habitat on the Jocassee Gorges property. Biologists will
recommend management practices to improve and maintain favorable wildlife
habitat conditions. These practices will include establishing wildlife
food plots and linear wildlife strips, planting and/or favoring hard and
soft mast-producing species, and using prescribed burning and forest
management practices to improve wildlife habitat. Other wildlife
management practices may be incorporated as techniques are developed and
as deemed necessary by SCDNR biologists.
D. TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE SCDNR will collect and utilize
detailed hydrology, geology, soils and climatology data and analyses as
needed for planning and management functions. The department will develop
a geographic information system (GIS) that will be used in making planning
and management decisions for the property. Assimilation of data from
natural resource surveys, monitoring, and research into GIS format will
allow managers to consider all natural resources when making land
management decisions. The GIS will initially utilize existing natural
resources data as it is collected. The agency also has available or access
to extensive maps, aerial photographs and remote sensing imagery that can
be used as needed in making management decisions for the property.
The Department has the necessary expertise and
facilities to develop specific management plan segments for river
corridors and watersheds on the property. In order to address the natural
resource impacts of human activities on the property, SCDNR will develop
and employ appropriate stewardship practices to avoid or minimize resource
damage and promote beneficial uses. As part of this effort, the agency
will develop an overall storm-water management plan for the entire project
and site specific storm-water management and sediment control plans for
trails, roads, building construction, campsite development and other
specific land disturbing activities.
Working through the Pickens Soil and Water Conservation
District, erosion control equipment will be available such as a straw
blower for mulching disturbed areas; a no-till drill for direct seeding
access roads, wildlife food plots, linear wildlife strips, and dove
fields; and a tree planter for reforestation. The district may provide
other needed equipment to conduct management operations.
Utilizing remote sensing and other inventory methods,
the department can identify unique natural resource features that would be
of interest to visitors to the property.