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Permits needed before removing vegetation along the lake shoreline

Permits needed before removing vegetation along the lake shoreline

Appalachian Power is reminding property owners at Smith Mountain and Leesville lakes of guidelines to follow prior to removing vegetation along lake shorelines.

The vegetation along the shoreline plays an important role in filtering storm water runoff, protecting against erosion, maintaining water quality and providing habitat for wildlife.

“Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the past year has seen a dramatic increase in the number of home sales and new residential subdivisions being developed at Smith Mountain Lake,” said Neil Holthouser, with Appalachian Power’s shoreline management group. “As more of the shoreline is developed, we want to make sure that property owners understand the value of shoreline vegetation and are aware of the permitting process for vegetation removal.”

An Appalachian Power Vegetation Removal Permit is required for the removal of any vegetation measuring ½-inch in diameter or greater within the Smith Mountain Project boundary (800-foot elevation contour at Smith Mountain Lake; 620-foot elevation contour at Leesville Lake). With a permit, the Shoreline Management Plan allows for vegetation removal for the following reasons:

Provide for reasonable view of the water

Construct access paths to the shoreline and/or dock or pier

Construct erosion control measures along the shoreline

General maintenance to the vegetated area.

Removing vegetation without a permit can cause significant delays in the processing of other permit applications, including permits for docks.

If there are dead or dying trees that are leaning and pose an imminent threat to life or property, property owners should contact Appalachian immediately to start the permitting process. Appalachian will work with the property owners to remove the threat in advance of a permit being issued.

“We encourage property owners to contact us early in their landscape-planning process,” Holthouser said. “In most cases where trees or shrubs are removed, replacement vegetation is required in order to maintain the function of the vegetative buffer. This takes careful planning and consideration.”

Additional information about vegetation removal or the permit application process is available at 985-2579 or by email at

Appalachian’s Shoreline Management Plan, authorized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as part of the company’s operating license for the hydroelectric facility, is designed to help manage development and protect the environment along shorelines and within the boundaries of the two lakes that make up the project.

The Shoreline Management Plan can be found on the project website at

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