by Steve Bell, Lake Watch columnist
Development is cranking up on the lake causing concerns about protecting shorelines designated as environmentally sensitive, natural wildlife, and/or recreation areas. Due to past development practices, almost 400 miles of shoreline (out of 650) have been stripped of important vegetation necessary to maintain a healthy ecosystem. New provisions will place most of the remaining undeveloped shoreline in protected areas. Where development does occur, 75 ft. buffer zones will be required which must be maintained in their natural state. In other words, no clearing allowed except for a meandering path to a dock. Two hundred ft. of shoreline will be required in order to construct a dock. Also, provisions in the new license will require current homeowners to restore 75 ft. buffer areas which have been cleared and privatized.
Concerns about protecting shoreline habitat surfaced last year when excessive clearing occurred on several tracts of land in the mid and upper lake. After Lake Watch complained to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), lake management admitted to the infractions and promptly began restoration efforts on several of these tracts. Dominion hired a professional landscaping company to replant the cleared areas with native trees and bushes.
Replanting should not be the remedy alone for mediating clearing violations. It can take decades for cleared shorelines to return to their original state. Most likely they will never return. That is why it is ever so important to discover and stop potential infractions before the damage is done.
Managing a waterway the size of Lake Murray is a challenge. Dominion can’t be everywhere all the time. So the time is ripe for Lake Murray citizens to respond to a call for action. Lake Watch is looking for volunteers who are 100% dedicated to protecting and preserving these natural, scenic shorelines which are vital to the health of the lake. Volunteers will be assigned areas to adopt, survey, monitor, and report back to Lake Watch any potential violations. Lakels interested should email Steve at email@example.com.