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Keowee-Toxaway Habitat Enhancement Program (KTHEP)

The Keowee-Toxaway Habitat Enhancement Program (KTHEP) is a cooperative initiative of Duke Energy and the signatories of the Keowee-Toxaway Relicensing Agreement (RA). KTHEP was developed during the Keowee-Toxaway Hydroelectric Project relicensing process. It is modeled after a similar program established for the Catawba-Wateree River and its reservoirs.

KTHEP provides an effective means of allowing continued private recreational access while providing meaningful habitat creation, enhancement and protection activities for fish and wildlife adjacent to Lake Keowee and Lake Jocassee, as well as within any part of the two watersheds.

The program is funded by a Habitat Enhancement Fund, which is supported through fees paid by property owners and developers applying for lake use permits for projects on Lake Keowee or Lake Jocassee, and through contributions provided by Duke Energy. These funds are awarded to successful applicants through a competitive proposal process. Any government agency or tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, or any individual working through a tax-exempt organization, may apply for funding. HEP will consider funding any type of project that meets the stated objectives.

For 2023, available funds total almost $1.1 million. Since 2015, the first year of implementation, the KTHEP has funded projects totaling almost $1.8 million to support support botanical, fish and avian habitat improvements. Individual project awards typically range from $10,000 to $50,000.

How to Apply

HEP funding proposals are accepted from May 1 through July 31. Applicants must provide all requested information or their proposals will be returned without consideration. All properly completed and submitted proposals will be reviewed by the Proposal Review Committee (PRC) made up of representatives from the Relicensing Agreement (RA) stakeholder organizations. PRC will evaluate applications and make funding recommendations to Duke Energy. All applicants will be notified of the final decision, and successful applicants will be issued instructions regarding the dispersal of funds and reporting requirements. Funds will be awarded in the fall.

To submit an application for project funding:

If you have any questions on the application process contact Michael Abney at Michael.Abney@duke-energy.com or 980.373.0435.

Evaluation Criteria

Each proposal will be given a fair and equitable consideration for funding. Standard criteria have been established to guide the Proposal Review Committee in this effort. Before implementing any activities on Duke Energy’s lake property or within the FERC Project Boundary at Duke Energy lakes, you must apply for and receive a lake use permit. Although not required, the Applicant is encouraged to consult with Duke Energy Lake Services prior to application submission.

Proposal Review Committee

The Proposal Review Committee includes at least five representatives from Relicensing Agreement (RA) signatory organizations. PRC reviews and evaluates HEP proposals and makes funding recommendations to Duke Energy. PRC also oversees monitoring and reporting requirements. Representatives serve fixed terms and are appointed by the organization.
  • Advocates for Quality Development – Sue Williams
  • Friends of Lake Keowee Society (FOLKS) – Dale Wilde
  • Oconee County – Stephen Schutt
  • S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) – Elizabeth Miller
  • S.C. Wildlife Federation – Wes Cooler and Andy Douglas
  • Upstate Forever – Scott Park

Recent Program Awards

Friends of Lake Keowee Society; Seneca, SC
Awards were granted to install native plantings and artificial fish attractors throughout Lake Keowee with SCDNR and for shoreline restoration of an island with a Great Blue Heron rookery utilizing bio-engineering methods. Locations of fish attractors on Lake Keowee can be viewed on the SCDNR website.

High Falls County Park (Oconee County); Seneca, SC
An award was granted to install an on-site pollinator garden with plants selected to benefit pollinators and wildlife. Interpretative signage will be included.

Naturaland Trust; Greenville, SC 
Awards were granted to acquire undeveloped land in the Lake Keowee watershed for the protection of riparian buffers, water quality, instream aquatic habitat, and wildlife corridors. Properties include critical habitat for the Oconee Bell, the signature plant species of the Jocassee and Keowee watershed.
 
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; Sunset, SC 
An award was granted to restore stream bank stability, enhance stream pattern and profile, and improve flood plain function on a 900-foot reach of Eastatoe Creek. The restoration efforts will improve in-stream habitat for aquatic invertebrates and fish and also reduce erosion and sedimentation impacts to downstream reaches of Eastatoe Creek and Lake Keowee.

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; Sunset, SC 
Awards were granted to assist in the acquisition of 12-acre and 64-acre undeveloped tracts of land in the Lake Keowee watershed. The acquisitions will provide for protection of headwater streams, water quality, and forested wildlife habitat.

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; Sunset, SC 
An award was granted to ameliorate for runoff and erosion at multiple sites within the Jocassee Gorges. Areas will be seeded with a native pollinator mix to improve insect and wildlife habitat in the Lake Jocassee watershed.

Friends of Lake Keowee Society; Seneca, SC
Awards were granted to install Eastern Bluebird houses and fish tackle disposal containers around Lake Keowee and to install artificial fish attractors with SCDNR in Lake Keowee.

Trout Unlimited; Seneca, SC
An award was granted to assist in the watershed-scale restoration effort in the Crane-Moody Creek watershed of Lake Keowee. The project partnership includes multiple state and federal resource agencies to provide stream habitat enhancements and remove fish passage barriers for native brook trout in the Andrew Pickens ranger district of the Sumter National Forest.

South Cove County Park; Seneca, SC

An award was granted to improve terrestrial and aquatic habitats via shoreline restoration and installation of native plants to improve insect and wildlife habitat. The project will provide an educational example of natural resource management for park visitors.

Friends of Lake Keowee Society; Seneca, SC
Awards were granted to improve terrestrial and aquatic habitats via island shoreline restoration and protection of great blue heron rookeries. Projects have also included installation of native plants, osprey nesting platforms and artificial fish attractors on Lake Keowee.

Friends of Lake Jocassee; Salem, SC
An award was granted to construct walkways to reduce erosion and install native plants to improve insect and wildlife habitat at Devils Fork State Park on Lake Jocassee. The project will provide an educational example of natural resource management for park visitors. 

Keep Oconee Beautiful Association; Seneca, SC
An award was granted to promote the protection of fish and wildlife habitat along the shores of Lake Keowee, Lake Jocassee and their watersheds. The program offers Oconee County Elementary Schools a curriculum that focuses on protection of land and water resources including demonstrations and hands-on learning. 

Clemson University-Forest Ecology and Fire Science; Clemson, SC
An award was granted to support restoration of fire-dependent wildlife habitats in Jocassee Gorges, SC and across the Blue Ridge Escarpment. 

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; Clemson, SC
An award was granted to enhance littoral and deep-water fish habitat for native game fish in a headwater tributary arm of Lake Keowee. Habitat enhancement efforts will include native aquatic vegetation plantings, deployment of fish attractors, deep-water rock reefs/jetties, stump clusters and spawning substrate additions. These efforts will be followed by stock enhancement of native fishes such as black crappie and largemouth bass. 

The Nature Conservancy of South Carolina; Columbia, SC
Awards were granted to support on-the-ground prescribed fire implementation in the Keowee and Jocassee lakes watersheds including training for fire professionals.
Great blue heron pair nesting
Shoreline restoration of an island with a Great Blue Heron rookery utilizing bio-engineering methods. Photo courtesy of Dale Wilde, FOLKS.
Rocky bottom waterfall
Photo courtesy of Mac Stone, Naturaland Trust.
A bee and a butterfly on flowers in a two close-up images.
Native wildflowers planted to improve insect and wildlife habitat in the Jocassee Gorges watershed. Photos courtesy of South Carolina Wildlife magazine.
Fishing tackle disposal station on Lake Keowee.
Installation of fishing tackle disposal containers around Lake Keowee. Photo courtesy of FOLKS.
bluebird box
Bluebird boxes on Lake Keowee. Photo courtesy of FOLKS.
Oconee Bell flower
Oconee Bell flower population and stream habitat protected through land conservation. Photo courtesy of Mac Stone, Naturaland Trust.
Controlled burn
Jocassee Gorges prescribed burns to benefit ecological enhancement. Photo courtesy of The Nature Conservancy-South Carolina Chapter.
Native aquatic vegetation
Native aquatic vegetation propagated for planting in Lake Keowee as part of a native sport fish restoration project. Photo courtesy of the SCDNR.
road culvert being hoisted by crane
Installation of road culvert to provide stream passage for native brook trout in Sumter National Forest. Photo courtesy of Trout Unlimited.
fish habitat installation
Volunteers deploy artificial fish attractors in Lake Keowee. Photo courtesy of FOLKS.