Smith Mountain Lake, Leesville Lake property owners should be aware of dredging deadline

Lynchburg & Central Virginia News
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SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE, Va. (WFXR) — A four-month ban on dredging within Smith Mountain Project lake boundaries begins in February.

Dredging by property owners at Smith Mountain and Leesville lakes is typically done to remove
sediment and debris from the bottom of the lake to increase water depth.

To protect fish habitats during the spawning season, dredging within the lakes’ boundaries is prohibited annually between Feb. 15 and June 15.

This policy helps to protect fish spawning at the lakes. These species include black bass, sunfish, catfish, and others that use shallow shoreline habitats during the spring spawning.

“The four-month ban helps protect key spawning areas that are in shallow water, where most
dredging takes place. Spawning temperatures vary among species and there are several spawning stages – site selection, active spawning, rearing – that encompass a fairly long period.”

Dan Wilson, fisheries biologist with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources

Property owners planning to dredge prior to the four-month ban must contact Appalachian Power no later than Jan. 31. If contact is not made prior to the end of the month, property owners should plan their dredging projects after June 15.

“We encourage property owners to plan ahead with the dredging prohibition in mind. If you miss the end-of-the month application deadline, please contact us anyway so we can help you prepare for your dredging project after the prohibition ends in mid-June.”

Neil Holthouser, Appalachian Power’s shoreline management group

When considering dredging at Smith Mountain or Leesville lakes, shoreline property owners and
contractors should remember these requirements:

  • Only accumulated sediment may be dredged; the original lake bottom cannot be disturbed. Dredging or excavation of all designated wetlands areas is prohibited.
  • Dredging or excavation involving more than 25 cubic yards of sediment requires the filing of a joint application with Appalachian and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Appalachian Power
  • Dredging or excavation involving less than 25 cubic yards of sediment may be allowed under the USACE Nationwide Permit 19, provided certain conditions are met. Property owners are advised to consult with the USACE prior to any planned dredging activity.
  • Appalachian requires that property owners who are considering dredging less than 25 cubic yards of sediment contact Appalachian a minimum of 10 working days prior to the planned dredging so that Appalachian can determine if the project meets the requirements of the Shoreline Management Plan.

To learn more about the Shoreline Management Plan, visit

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