They’ve caused quite a bit of uproar at Claytor Lake the last few months, prompting county leaders to reject them.
So what happens if state game officials accept local opinions and prohibit American Electric Power from installing navigational buoys, or channel markers, on the lake?
“If VDGIF doesn’t give approval, we will discuss it internally to see what to do next,” said Elizabeth B. Parcell, a Hydro Generation process supervisor for AEP. “Now that the Aids to Navigation Management Plan is part of the license, FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) will expect us to abide by” the plan.
She added, “One option out of many would be to ask FERC to amend the license so that the aids are no longer required.”
The Aids to Navigation Plan, with its proposed buoys, is part of AEP’s dam relicensing agreement with FERC. The relicensing process has been ongoing for some time and Parcell said during a recent board of supervisors meeting that the buoys were made part of the plan “after holding community meetings to discuss issues at the lake.”
Lake residents and users say they weren’t aware of any community meetings or the proposal to ultimately install 70 buoys to mark the main channel of Claytor Lake. They have expressed concern the buoys will narrow channels so much they’ll reduce the recreational value of the lake for skiers and boaters and that they’ll take away from the beauty of the lake.
Parcell said the buoys merely delineate the area that is safest for travel so that boaters do not get stuck in silt deposits.
Lake residents and local lake users say everyone knows where the silt deposits are. One resident said during the recent board meeting, “We’ve been putting sticks in the mud for years.”
However, AEP contends new lake users are not familiar with these areas and are at risk of becoming stuck or even injured.
Nevertheless, Pulaski County Board of Supervisors unanimously declined to support an amended plan to install eight test buoys in the Allisonia area, saying they have yet to have a single constituent favor them.
AEP originally wanted to install 14 test buoys in the Little Wytheville section of the lake, but the supervisors sent them back to the drawing board to reduce the number proposed.