In June of 2005, GRDA took a major step in its continuing efforts to put more emphasis on its lake management responsibilities when the GRDA Board of Directors approved the development of a Grand Lake comprehensive shoreline management plan (SMP).
Though a SMP, which would encompass the 1,300 miles of Grand Lake shoreline, had been considered at GRDA for many years, GRDA Chief Executive Officer Kevin Easley said the decision to finally move forward with the plan is good news for all Grand Lake stakeholders.
Shoreline Management and Permitting
GRDA has put together a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and their response to those questions for your information and to clarify some of the information presented and discussed at the October 6-7, 2005 Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) Workshops. GRDA recognizes there will be additional questions as we move forward in the SMP process but hopefully these FAQs will be a good start in addressing some of your concerns and help you get a better understanding of the SMP process.
What is a Shoreline Management Plan?
A Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) is a comprehensive plan to manage the multiple resources (i.e., recreation, land use, aquatic habitat, terrestrial, cultural, etc) and uses of the project’s shorelines in a manner that is consistent with license requirements and project purposes and addresses the needs of the public. A SMP is the “road map” to help GRDA reach its “vision”–its destination of managing the Grand Lake shoreline now and in the future. GRDA, along with interested stakeholders, will develop the “vision” for Grand.
Why does GRDA have to do a SMP?
GRDA is voluntarily developing the SMP to assist it in providing consistent and long-term stewardship of the Grand Lake shoreline. Developing a SMP will assist GRDA in effectively analyzing appropriate land use within the Pensacola Project boundary, as well as to provide supportable and defensible means for land use and permitting decisions.
Why is the federal government involved in this project?
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is an independent regulatory agency that regulates and oversees energy industries in the economic, environmental, and safety interests of the American public. FERC is responsible for licensing and inspecting private, municipal, and state hydroelectric projects. The Federal Power Act gives FERC the authority to regulate hydroelectric projects, such as the Pensacola Project. FERC’s authority of the Pensacola Project applies to the lands, waters and structures within the FERC project boundary for Pensacola.
What is a project boundary? What is a flowage easement and who controls that land within the flowage easement?
When FERC projects were/are built, all licensees are required to designate a “project boundary” which is simply put, a line established by the FERC to enclose the lands, waters, and structures needed to operate a licensed hydroelectric project. Some licensees use an elevation. GRDA’s project boundary for the Pensacola Project was established on metes and bounds, NOT on the 750′ elevation.
A flowage easement is an area containing lands with mixed ownership, but which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have specific flood rights in conjunction with the regulation of operation during high flow events (i.e., when the water level is 745-755 ft). Private lands may be within the flowage easement, but the activities within that easement are controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Will the SMP result in more rules and regulations for property owners and users of Grand Lake?
While it is difficult to predict the specific outcomes of the SMP, it is certain that the SMP will address a variety of topics, such as existing land use in and around the project boundary, land use classifications for lands within the project boundary, a discussion of best management practices, and a reference to a permit program. The permit program is typically where a stakeholder would find the specific rules and regulations on permitted activities, such dredging, size of boat docks and structure specifications, tree cutting, etc. The purpose of an SMP is not to eliminate rules and regulations, but to set forth a management plan to provide the consistent long-term stewardship of the shoreline. This may or may not result in additional rules and regulations.
What is the U.S. Corps of Engineers involvement in the SMP?
Because the U.S. Corps of Engineers has a flowage easement and directs GRDA operation once water has reached el. 745, the U.S. Corps of Engineers has been asked to participate in the development of a shoreline management plan. Further, for certain activities within the lake and within the flowage easement, direct consultation with the U.S. Corps of Engineers 404 is required, as may be applicable permits.
Does GRDA have a moratorium on processing applications for shoreline permitted activities (e.g., dredging, cutting trees, picking up shoreline litter)? If so, is this moratorium due to the development of the SMP?
Pending the outcome of the CSMP all permits for dredging have been temporarily suspended. Until a time in which GRDA has completed a vegetation management plan all tree cutting activities have also been temporarily suspended, however trees deemed hazardous by GRDA Compliance Officers maybe removed with proper permitting.
What is the schedule for developing the SMP?
GRDA anticipates developing the SMP between October 2005 and September 2007. GRDA expects to file a final SMP with FERC around November 2007.
How will stakeholders know about the SMP meetings?
Stakeholders can track the progress of the SMP and view the public meeting schedule by accessing GRDA’s web site (www.GRDA.com). Additionally, GRDA will email public meeting notices, post in the newspapers, and/or use direct mail to inform stakeholders of future public meetings.