Boone Dam Repair Coalition to hold Tuesday meeting on vegetation management

David Floyd • Oct 27, 2019 at 4:24 PM

As the Tennessee Valley Authority continues to pour the concrete cutoff wall designed to stop seepage at the Boone Dam embankment, property owners want to ensure the agency doesn’t forget about vegetation growing in the exposed lake bed.

The Boone Dam Repair Coalition, an organization composed of hundreds of residents who live around Boone Lake, will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the BrightRidge auditorium, 2600 Boones Creek Road.

Members will talk about repairs to the dam, but the main focus will be on trees and vegetation that have grown in the lake bed.

During the repair, TVA has lowered Boone Lake’s water from its normal summer pool level of 1,382 feet to about 1,350 feet.

TVA has cut roughly 650 acres of vegetation as part of a supplemental vegetation management plan, but Mark Joseph, the organization’s president, said members of the the organization have recently toured the lake and have noticed areas where there is still vegetation that property owners would like to see cut.

He said trees and plant life growing in certain exposed areas could pose a navigation hazard for boats when the lake levels return to normal.

Members of the group have taken photos of the areas in question and have compiled an interactive Google Map that ties the images to specific locations on the lake. The map will be discussed at the meeting on Tuesday.

There is also vegetation growing in rocky and marshy areas around the lake, which could present a challenge to conventional mulching equipment, that the coalition hopes TVA will cut. In its 2016 environmental assessment, TVA said it would use tractors with bush hog attachments, extendable hydraulic arms and other forms of equipment to manage vegetation.

The organization will also discuss TVA’s commitments in the 2016 environmental assessment and a series of answers TVA has posted on its website to questions about the agency’s supplemental vegetation management plan and the Boone Dam repair process.

“The main objective of the meeting is to just let people know that we’re going to be keeping track, and we’re going to have communication with TVA on what still needs to get done,” Rogers said.

Rogers said the lake’s exposed coves present more of a challenge than the main channel. Some coves are blocked off by vegetation, he said.

TVA spokesperson Mary Ellen Miller said TVA will host a public information fair from 5-7 p.m. Dec. 3 at Daniel Boone High School in Gray, which will include an exhibit specifically dealing with vegetation management.

She said the organization will show the areas that have been mulched over the past summer and will reevaluate its supplemental vegetation management program in the new year. TVA has completed the management efforts slated for this calendar year.

“The plan is right now that we would be moving forward with some additional mulching,” she said.

Miller said the agency has encouraged property owners to handle any vegetation growing on their property as they see fit. TVA has a homeowner’s guide on its website for owners who have questions.

She noted that curtailing vegetation is a balancing act: The plant life can also act as a good habitat for fish and helps prevent soil erosion.

The agency initially identified 700 acres of land to target with its management plan, and after field review, narrowed its focus to 512 acres to take into account areas that weren’t accessible by the agency’s machines and to protect culturally sensitive areas discovered through surveys. In total, Miller said 96 culturally sensitive areas have been identified.

After outreach with members of the public, the agency ultimately ended up mulching 650 acres of vegetation before September of this year.