Copyright 2008- Steve Bell
Lake Murray near Columbia, SC
47,500 acres, 40 miles long and 650 miles of shoreline
Agencies say too much shoreline development will ruin the lake
Right-Camping Creek cove "For Sale"
"In consideration of current water quality trends, DHEC believes that minimization of future urban development along the Lake Murray shoreline is necessary to maintain long term water quality"..................Rheta Geddings, Bureau of Water
"It is abundantly clear that certain areas slated for future development, need to be protected for their natural, recreational, and scenic values." ...Ed Duncan, Environmental Programs Director, SCDNR
"Rapid development has caused a general degradation of water quality, boating safety problems due to crowding, and loss of fish and wildlife habitat." .....Roger Banks, Field Supervisor US Fish and Wildlife Service
"The increasing development is affecting recreational usage and safety on the lake and adding to concerns about water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and scenic integrity." ..............Tony Bebber, Planning Manager, SC PRT
" The licensee's (SCE&G) proposal, to allow consumer demand and economic factors to dictate type, location, and size of development will not ensure protection of aquatic and terrestrial resources. Some areas of the lake are not conducive to development. Without planning and foresight, shoreline development can contribute to overcrowding conditions, and environmental degradation. ".... Mark Robinson, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
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What will Lake Murray look like in 30 years?
By Steve Bell
For three and a half years, starting in 2005, South Carolina Electric and Gas Company met with over a dozen stakeholder groups to identify, discuss and resolve a multitude of issues relating to the operation and management of the Saluda River Hydro Project. The meetings were part of SCE&G’s efforts to development a new license plan that will stand up to new federal environmental and recreational requirements.
Of major concern was how to manage the remaining undeveloped shorelines that are currently under federal control with emphasis on how to do a better job of protecting and enhancing fish and wildlife resources and scenic values in the face of continued developmental pressures. For over a decade, state and federal natural resource experts had complained that too much shoreline is being developed and not enough shoreline is being preserved, and that “rebalancing” of shoreline uses is needed in order to protect those important public resources.
Committees were formed to evaluate shorelines for their natural resource and economic values. The natural resource committee found that the majority of lands analyzed scored high for natural resource values. The committee recommended that those lands be placed in “Forest Management”, a classification which does not allow development. The economic resource committee found that almost sixty miles of shoreline scored high for economic values and recommended those shorelines be placed in the “Future Development” classification.
SCE&G, the official “arbitrator” in the process, offered a compromise which would allow development on shorelines high economic values, but would require stricter environmental standards including (1) requiring a 75 ft. undisturbed vegetative buffer zone , (2) placing covenants on lands sold above the buffer which would prohibit construction of homes or buildings and prohibit clearing of trees larger than 4 inches in diameter, (3) requiring property owners to have a least 200 ft to quality for an individual dock and (4) requiring small community docks, in lieu of individual docks on large tracts where feasible.
The natural resource committee accepted the compromise which was subsequently incorporated in the new Land Use and Shoreline Management Plan. In addition to the rebalancing proposal, stakeholders agreed that approximately 100 miles of shoreline mostly located in the riverene areas, should remain protected in the Forest Management classification, SCE&G should continue its Shoreline Enhancement Program which provides free trees and natural shrubs to homeowners who want to re-nourish shorelines, and finally a buffer zone restoration plan should be implemented requiring homeowners to re-vegetate buffer zones that had been inappropriately cleared due to past development practices.
During a presentation several years ago to the Lake Murray Homeowners Coalition, DNR fisheries biologist Ron Ahle asked members, “What do you want the lake to look like in 30 years?” Ahle discussed the important public values associated with natural resource protection noting that without changes, those values we hold so dearly today may not be available for future generations to enjoy and nurture. The changes incorporated in the new shoreline plan should go a long way in helping to ensure that future generations will enjoy those natural resource values we enjoy today- natural shorelines, an abundance of fish and wildlife, good water quality, and above all, places to go to just “get away from it all”.
Steve Bell is President of Lake Murray Watch and was a member of the committee that developed the Lake Murray Land Use and Shoreline Plan. Steve is a freelance writer and photographer, lives on Lake Murray and owns Lake Murray Images.com .
For information email email@example.com or call Steve @ 803-730-8121
Help protect the lake by contributing to the SCELP
Lake Murray is undergoing intense development pressures, especially in the lower lake and some projects can be potentially harmful to the lake's health. In order for the lake community to challenge projects that pose a threat to the lake, it is essential that we have access to legal resources. Normally this can be expensive but the SC Environmental Law Project offers assistance for free. SCELP is able to offer services because of the many donations received from environmentally consious organizations and citizens throughout the state. Please help us safeguard the lake's environmental resources by contributing to the SCELP. Go to www.scelp.org and make a donation.
President Steve Bell.."Voice of the lake"
Lake Watch President Steve Bell was honored at the SC Wildlife Federation's 41st Banquet in Spartanburg, receiving this year's Water Conservation Award. The Federation honored 14 other Conservationists at the 3 day affair held at the Marriott at Renaissance Park near downtown Spartanburg on Saturday, January 21. Federation President Angela Viney made the award presentation, stating that "Steve Bell, an active volunteer on conservation issues around Lake Murray, is the driving force and President of Lake Watch, a non-profit watchdog group that keeps an eye on activities that affect the water quality, wildlife habitat, scenic integrity, and recreational use of the lake. Steve is in constant touch with state and federal agencies and other organizations involved in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issues involving Lake Murray and the Saluda Hydroelectric Project. He works to coordinate efforts among a variety of these interests, review notices, keep interested parties informed of others' actions, and encourage action to protect the water and land resources associated with the lake. Steve is considered "the voice of the lake" when news media needs information or comments on lake matters. He continues to stress the need to rebalance the uses of the lake to protect the natural and recreational needs with the residential, commercial, and industrial needs. Steve keeps pressure on the power company and public agencies to work toward solutions that will protect the natural resources of the lake and river below the dam. Because of his dedication to Lake Murray and endless conservation efforts, he is this year's Water Conservation Award winner."