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Recreation Use and Needs Study

Recreation Use and Needs Study

Recreation Use & Needs Study Final Summary (Overview Follows)

Data collection for the RUN study covered a one-year period from December 1, 2006, through November 30, 2007. The Study Plan was developed in consultation with a study team consisting of representatives from state and federal resource agencies, adjacent county governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and recreation planning professionals (complete list located at bottom of page). The study area included Lake Jocassee and Lake Keowee (including Duke Energy-owned islands) within the FERC Project Boundary, existing developed and undeveloped Duke Energy access areas, state and municipal parks, and commercial recreation facilities within and adjacent to the Project, all of which provide or affect water-and land-based recreation opportunities for the general public.

Public recreation areas at Lake Jocassee include one South Carolina state park, one South Carolina natural resource management area, one North Carolina State Park, three Duke Energy-owned boat-in trail access areas, and three Duke Energy-owned undeveloped access areas set aside in the current FERC License. Lake Keowee public recreation areas include seven Duke Energy-owned public access areas, one South Carolina state natural area, three county parks, and three commercial marina or campground facilities.

Data collection methods for the study included a literature review of existing recreation use information; site inventory assessments of the existing public recreation areas; public recreation area interviews (1,024 interviews), spot counts (1,054 counts), traffic counts (4,015 counts), and trail counts (415 counts); boat counts (aerial photographs were taken on 11 sampling days); and mail surveys, including shoreline and back-lot property owners (1,100 surveys mailed, and 415 were returned completed); regional residents (sampled residents within Oconee and Pickens and adjacent counties) (1,100 surveys mailed, and 74 were returned completed); agency, commercial recreation providers, and NGO representatives (34 surveys mailed, and 8 were returned completed).

Key findings of the Recreation Use & Needs (RUN) study include:

Origin of Visitors - Visitors to Lake Jocassee and Lake Keowee are predominately from Pickens and Oconee counties (39 and 37 percent respectively) followed by Greenville (11 percent) and Anderson (8 percent) counties.

Access through North Carolina Lands – Participants were asked whether they accessed Lake Jocassee from North Carolina, or recreated in the North Carolina portion of Lake Jocassee during a trip to Lake Jocassee. About 40 percent of the interview respondents indicated they had accessed Lake Jocassee from North Carolina or had recreated on adjacent North Carolina lands with their primary means of access provided by motorboat, 4-wheel drive, hiking/walking, or canoe/kayak. Only 8 respondents to the shoreline and back-lot property owners and the regional residents surveys indicated they had accessed Lake Jocassee through North Carolina or recreated in North Carolina, with access provided by boat, car, hiking, and 4-wheel drive.

Recreation Visitation Estimates – The total recreation visitation at the Keowee-Toxaway Project for the study period was estimated at 2,584,341 recreation days (defined as a visit by a person to the Project for recreational purposes during any portion of a 24-hour period).

Types of Recreation Activities – Primary activities were boat fishing (49 percent), visiting beaches/swimming (38 percent), sightseeing (36 percent), picnicking/family gatherings (34 percent), motor boating (30 percent), water skiing/tubing (22 percent), walking (19 percent), bank/dock/pier fishing (18 percent), and pontoon boating (18 percent).

Crowding Ratings – For shoreline and back-lot property owners and regional residents, the weekends at Lake Keowee were perceived as being the most crowded and were rated as having lots of people. This contrasts with the public recreation area visitors who rated the weekends as having few people at the public recreation areas. The shoreline and back-lot property owners and regional residents felt there were too many boats, while the public recreation area visitors felt there were an average number of boats during the peak use weekends.

Aesthetic Attributes – Almost all (over 98 percent) of the respondents felt that the aesthetic quality of the lakes and shorelines was “attractive” or “okay,” with slightly higher ratings at Lake Jocassee compared to Lake Keowee. Both shoreline and regional residents identified attributes associated with development as the greatest detractors from the aesthetic resources.

Safety – All but one of the interview respondents and 86 percent of the shoreline and back-lot owner respondents indicated they felt safe at the public recreation areas. Ninty-five percent of the public recreation area visitors indicated they were either “safe” or “very safe” on the water. The majority of situations where respondents did not feel safe on the water were related to the number, speed, or unsafe operation of boats or personal watercraft.

Satisfaction with Condition of Facilities – More than 95 percent of the interview respondents and 70 percent of the shoreline and back-lot owners and regional residents were satisfied or very satisfied with the physical condition of the public recreation areas. Respondents that were dissatisfied indicated the need for additional litter control and maintenance measures.

Satisfaction with Number and Type of Facilities – For both lakes combined, more than 70 percent of the respondents were satisfied with the number and type of recreation facilities.  However, for Lake Keowee, 57 percent of the public recreation area visitors indicated satisfaction with the number and type of facilities.

Recommendations for New or Expanded Facilities – For Lake Jocassee, the primary recommendations were for additional boat fueling facilities, additional boat ramps, trails, food services, and parking.  For Lake Keowee, the primary recommendations were for food services, additional restrooms, marinas, boat fueling facilities, boat docks/courtesy dock, and boat ramps.

Based on the assessment of the data, primary recommendations are as follows:

Lake Jocassee – Pursue opportunities to ensure naturally appearing shoreline, and assess potential for additional boat ramp facilities and additional hiking trails.

Lake Keowee – Assess potential for additional beaches/swimming areas, hiking trails, restroom facilities, courtesy loading docks, picnic shelters, and fishing piers. Enhance litter control and maintenance measures.

FERC has directed, in their May 25, 2007, order modifying and approving shoreline management plan, for the Keowee-Toxaway Project, that Duke Energy Carolinas, in consultation with local, state, and federal agencies, tribes, and local NGO’s develop a comprehensive Recreation Management Plan (RMP) for the project.  An invitation to participate in this process was sent to RUN study team members as well as those identified by the FERC on April 22, 2008.  The forthcoming RMP will contain site specific recommendations supported by the information reported in this RUN study and in consultation with federal, state, and local governmental and public interest entities as specified by FERC.

Recreation Use & Needs Study Overview

Duke Energy is conducting a Recreation Use and Needs Study on lakes Keowee and Jocassee. This study will involve a year-long data collection effort and is intended to guide Duke Energy and its partners, including state resource agencies, local governments and commercial recreation providers in making sound choices about public recreation improvements and future needs on the lakes. This study will provide valuable information and data that will help Duke Energy better manage and plan for public recreation needs through the remainder of the Keowee - Toxaway Project license.

Although Duke Energy will evaluate public recreation use and future needs as an integral part of the formal Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relicensing process which will begin in 2010, the existing and proposed shoreline development and demand for enhanced public recreation opportunities, especially on Lake Keowee, indicates that a comprehensive re-assessment is needed sooner than that to help Duke Energy and others, manage project recreation resources.

Study Team - Established to assist in finalizing the draft recreation study plan and to manage the actual study. State and federal resource agencies, non-governmental organizations and recreation planning professionals also provided input into the study methodology and surveys.

Stakeholder Team - The Final Study Plan was presented to a group of more than 50 additional stakeholder representatives of state agencies, city and county government, non-government organizations, special interest recreation groups and commercial recreation providers in November 2006. The Study Team will provide additional stakeholder communications on the progress of the study and the final results in the first part of 2008.

The data that will be collected will enhance Duke Energy’s understanding of the recreational resources and use levels on both lakes and will support Duke’s Access Area Improvement Initiative for the lakes.

Beginning in December a variety of methods will be used to collect this data. Residents in Oconee, Pickens and Transylvania counties may receive a questionnaire in the mail. Visitors to public access areas, fishing areas, and state and county parks around the lakes may be asked to be in interviewed (if visitor is willing) about their recreation experience. Additional interviews will be conducted with commercial recreation facility operators, public park managers, and state and local government agencies. Beginning in the spring of 2007, a random sample of shoreline residents, as well as the general population in Oconee, Pickens and Transylvania counties and surrounding counties, will receive a questionnaire in the mail.

Study Team Representatives

Scott Jolley Duke Energy Lake Services
Tony Bebber SC Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism
Dick Christie SC Department of Natural Resources
Mark Hall SC Department of Natural Resources
Steve Pagano NC Department of Parks and Recreation
Jess Grove Clemson University, Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management
Bill Hammit Clemson University, Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management
Mark Cantrell US Fish & Wildlife Service
Amanda Hill US Fish & Wildlife Service
Bill Chambers US Army Corps of Engineers, Lake Hartwell
Chuck Smith Friends of Lake Keowee Society
Chris Brink Pickens County
Olivia Vassey Pickens County
Phil Shirley Oconee County
Artie Wilson, Jr. Transylvania County, NC
Jot Splenda Consultant, Louis Berger Group
Benji Cannon Consultant, Duke Energy Lake Services
Bill Ambrose Consultant, Heron Cove Partners, LLC

Stakeholder Representatives

Steve Reed NC Department of Environment & Natural Resources (Division of Water Quality)
Chris Goudreau NC Wildlife Resources Commission
Dwayne Stutzman NC Department of Environment & Natural Resources (Division of Parks and Recreation)
Irvin Pitts SC Parks, Recreation & Tourism (SC PRT)
Keith Windham SC PRT
Bryn Harmer Keowee-Toxaway State Natural Area
Pete Davis SC PRT - Devils Fork State Park
Scott Stegenga SC PRT - Table Rock State Park
Ray Johns US Forest Service
Deirdre Hewitt National Park Service - Rivers, Trail, & Conservation Assistance Program
Heyward Douglass Foothills Trail Conference
Lee Storm Foothills Trail Conference
Executive Director SC Wildlife Federation
Richard Mode NC Wildlife Federation
Buck Denton Trout Unlimited
Ron Gardzalla Trout Unlimited
John Garton Trout Unlimited
Art Shick Trout Unlimited
Ton Hendricks Oconee County
Dan Alexander City of Seneca
Greg Dietterick City of Seneca
Lamar Bailes City of Walhalla
Nance Goehle City of Walhalla
Derek Hodgins City of Westminster
David Smith City of Westminster
David Smith City of Westminster
Thurman Coward, Jr. City of Salem
J. Chappell Hurst, Jr. Pickens County
Rickard Cotton City of Clemson
Larry Abernathy City of Clemson
Randy Cheek Town of Six Mile
Ray Farley Alliance Pickens
Jim Codner Crescent Presidents Council
Jim Gadd Oconee Alliance
Linda Lovely Advocates for Quality Development, Inc.
Brad Wyche Upstate Forever
Thomas Warren Clemson University
Mike Atkins Scuba Shop of Spartanburg
Ken Sloan Jocassee Outdoor Center
Ray Bradford Ecoscape Adventures
Monty McGuffin Carolina Outdoorsman
Harry Wallace SC BASS Federation
Paul Terry SC BASS Federation
Ron Koeppen SC BASS Federation
Warren Turner National Striped Bass Association
Joe Brenner Hartwell Lake Homeowners Association
Ben Turetsky FOLKS
Jack Postle FOLKS
Bern Bayer FOLKS
Fritz Lunde Citizen
Jim Doyle Citizen
Bart Schile Lake Keowee Marina, LLC
Margie McDuffie Crooked Creek RV Park