Yadkin Project (FERC No. 2197)

Transmission Line and Project Facility Habitat Assessment

Final Study Plan

June, 2003



Alcoa Power Generating Inc. (APGI) is the licensee for the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project.  The Yadkin Project is currently licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as Project No. 2197.  This license expires in 2008 and APGI must file a new license application with FERC on or before April 30, 2006 to continue operation of the Project.   

The Yadkin Project consists of four reservoirs, dams, and powerhouses (High Rock, Tuckertown, Narrows , and Falls) located on a 38-mile stretch of the Yadkin River in central North Carolina .  The Project generates electricity to support the power needs of Alcoa’s Badin Works, to support its other aluminum operations, or is sold on the open market.  

As part of the relicensing process, APGI prepared and distributed, in September 2002, an Initial Consultation Document (ICD), which provides a general overview of the Project.  Agencies, municipalities, non-governmental organizations and members of the public were given an opportunity to review the ICD and identify information and studies that are needed to address relicensing issues.  To further assist in the identification of issues and data/study needs, APGI has formed several Issue Advisory Groups (IAGs) to advise APGI on resource issues throughout the relicensing process.  IAGs will also have the opportunity to review and comment on Draft Study Plans.  This Draft Study Plan has been developed in response to comments on the ICD and through discussions with the Wetlands, Wildlife and Botanical IAG, to provide additional necessary information for consideration in the relicensing process.


Currently, Project lands (lands within the FERC Project boundary) at the Yadkin Project are generally limited to small areas of land around the development dams and powerhouses, and several transmission corridors.  Yadkin anticipates that two sets of transmission lines (combined length about three miles) will remain within the Yadkin Project boundary, after FERC acts on a request by Yadkin to remove other transmission lines from within the existing FERC boundary.  The two transmission lines that will remain part of the hydroelectric project include an approximately two mile long transmission line from Falls Reservoir and an approximately one mile long transmission line from Narrows Reservoir.  The objective of this study will be to evaluate wildlife habitat conditions on Yadkin Project lands, including the areas around the dams and powerhouses and along these two transmission line corridors, and to assess potential impacts to habitat from the maintenance and operation of these facilities.


The following issues were raised during initial consultation regarding terrestrial wildlife habitat at the Yadkin Project:  

§         Effects of transmission lines and dam related facilities on vegetation cover and wildlife habitat


On March 13, and April 25, 2003 the Wetlands, Wildlife and Botanical IAG met and discussed objectives for the wildlife habitat study.  Over the course of those discussions the following objectives were identified for the study.  

§         Identify vegetation cover types and wildlife habitat types in the vicinity of transmission lines, dams and powerhouses.

§         Evaluate effects of transmission line and facility operation and maintenance on vegetation cover and wildlife habitat.

§         Identify opportunities for wildlife habitat enhancements on Yadkin Project lands.

Geographic Extent

§         Transmission line corridors from Falls Reservoir and from Narrows Reservoir; total length approximately three miles, including the cleared transmission line corridor and within a band 50 feet to either side of the cleared corridor.

§         Project lands within the vicinity of the four dams and powerhouses.


§         Review and evaluate existing inventory information for the transmission lines.

§         Delineate vegetation cover types, under the transmission lines, within a band 50 feet wide along each side of the lines and in the vicinity of dams and powerhouses on stereo-aerial photos.  Prepare a cover type map for each of the two lines and the dams and powerhouses.

§         Ground truth questionable areas and inventory the vegetation in representative areas of each cover type; characterize vegetation structure and composition of each cover type. 

§         Evaluate wildlife habitat quality (i.e., soil type, litter quality, micro relief, moisture regime etc.) and wildlife use at each of the representative areas including guilds of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

§         Review Yadkin management practices for these facilities, including vegetation control by means of mowing and herbicide treatment, and stormwater management. 

§         Qualitatively evaluate the impacts of the transmission lines and Yadkin operations on vegetation cover, wildlife habitat (i.e. habitat fragmentation, invasive species, RTE species) and wildlife use.

§         Qualitatively evaluate the effects of herbicides on water quality; determine whether the herbicides used are prequalified for use in aquatic systems, and whether the application of best management practices will ensure that water quality is not degraded; identify surface water flow patterns and make recommendations regarding location of herbicide applications to avoid impacts.

§         Identify opportunities to improve wildlife habitat

a.       Changes in management and maintenance practices

b.       Habitat modifications/enhancements  


A draft study report will be prepared that will include the following information:  

§         Review of existing studies and information on the two transmission lines.

§         Description of approach and methods.

§         Characterization of vegetation cover types associated with the transmission lines, dams and powerhouses including structure and composition, wildlife habitat quality and wildlife use of each type and maps showing vegetation cover types.

§         Assessment of the effects of the transmission lines and their maintenance and Project operations on vegetation cover, wildlife habitat, wildlife use and water quality.

§         Review of management practices for transmission lines, dams and powerhouses, identification of management problems and possible corrective measures.

§         Discussion of opportunities to improve wildlife habitat.  

The draft report will be distributed to the IAG for review and comment, the comments addressed and a final report prepared.  


§         Review existing studies and information.

June–July 2003

§         Delineate vegetation cover types on stereo pairs, transfer boundaries to orthophoto base map, digitize boundaries and prepare a vegetation cover type map.

August–December 2003

§         Ground truth cover types, characterize vegetation types and wildlife habitat quality and use, correct photos and maps.

June–July 2004

§         Review Project management practices for these facilities.

June–July 2004

§         Assess impacts of transmission lines and operations on vegetation, wildlife habitat, wildlife use and water quality.

August–September 2004

§         Draft report

October 31, 2004

§         Final report

December 31, 2004