Appalachian Power reminds 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 the lakes’ water quality and providing habitat for wildlife.

“We’re at the time of the year when vegetation is starting to bloom and property owners are busy sprucing up their lawns,” said Neil Holthouser, with Appalachian Power’s shoreline management group. “We want to make sure lake residents know the permitting process for vegetation removal so we can help them plan their landscape improvements.”

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 (SMP) 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 to start the permitting process. Appalachian will work with the property owners to remove the threat in advance of a permit being issued.

“We want customers to know that we are still processing applications and are available for consultation during this time,” Holthouser said. “If a visit to the property is required, we are practicing additional safety measures to keep staff and homeowners safe, but the goal is to make sure shoreline property owners are able to prepare for the spring and summer seasons.” 

Additional information about vegetation removal is available at (540) 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

Smith Mountain Project is a 636-megawatt pumped storage hydroelectric facility on the Roanoke River that utilizes an upper reservoir (Smith Mountain Lake) and a lower reservoir (Leesville Lake). Combined, the project includes about 600 miles of shoreline.

Water stored in Smith Mountain Lake first passes through turbine-generators in the powerhouse to produce electricity and is discharged into Leesville Lake. From there some water is released through the Leesville Dam or pumped back into Smith Mountain. The project is operated by Appalachian Power.

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