New methods help residents comply with federal protections
by Special To the Eagle
Nov 25, 2012 | 1308 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Smith Lake residents with permitted shoreline projects located in the habitat of the federally protected flattened musk turtle (FMT) can install approved construction activities through March 31, 2013.

For the past several years, Alabama Power biologists – working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – have been working to help lake residents comply with the Endangered Species Act by researching the turtle and its habitat on Smith Lake. This research has led to the development of shoreline stabilization methods to help residents protect the turtle and its habitat during shoreline construction projects.

“Our biologists, partnering agencies and outside experts have worked hard during the past couple of years to help us better understand this threatened species,” said John Ledbetter, shoreline manager at Alabama Power’s Smith Lake Shoreline Management office. “Their work studying the turtle’s habitat will now give people options to stabilize and enhance the shoreline while meeting federal protection requirements.”

Residents approved for shoreline construction permits in FMT habitat must complete their projects by March 31, 2013. Future permitted construction work in FMT habitat will be allowed during a five-month span – Nov. 1 through March 31 – when the turtles are less active.

The Endangered Species Act safeguards listed species by providing federal protection on both public and private lands against direct human threats – such as killing, trapping or habitat destruction.

Every permit application on Alabama Power-owned reservoirs on the Warrior, Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers is reviewed by the company’s Environmental Affairs team with federal protections in mind – including threatened and endangered species. After review, sites identified as federally protected have special permit requirements to minimize the impact of construction activities.

A demonstration of enhanced natural stabilization techniques for FMT habitat is available for viewing adjacent to the Smith Dam boat launch. Information on the FMT and a contractor’s guide for enhanced natural stabilization techniques are available on Alabama Power’s Shoreline Management page at www.alabamapower.com/community/lakes.