Vegetation along the shoreline at Smith Mountain and Leesville lakes 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.”

Property owners are required to apply for an Appalachian Power vegetation removal permit to remove 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 allows for vegetation removal to:

n Provide for reasonable view of the water

n Construct access paths to the shoreline and/or dock or pier

n Construct erosion control measures along the shoreline

n General maintenance to the vegetated area

If there are dead or dying trees that are leaning and pose an imminent threat to life or property, property owners should contact Appalachian immediately 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.”

Information about vegetation removal is available at 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.