Natural Resources

Collapse All Expand All

Wildlife Management

The main objective of the Hartwell Project wildlife management program is to improve wildlife habitat through, accepted forestry and wildlife management practices consistent with the multiple use objectives of the lake project.  Another objective is to provide hunting opportunities at suitable locations. Wildlife viewing opportunities are also available on project lands. Wildlife management activities are coordinated with appropriate State agencies, and cooperative efforts with interested groups are also encouraged.  

Currently, approximately 2500 acres of Hartwell Project land is leased to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) for wildlife management. Beaverdam Creek Wildlife Management Area, located in Townville, is a 900 acre waterfowl management area leased to SCDNR.  Waterfowl hunting is allowed in this area by drawing only.

Corps efforts to improve wildlife habitat and hunting success include the management of 27 wildlife openings around the project.  These wildlife openings are planted and maintained to improve habitat for deer and turkey as well as benefit small game and non-game species.  Four of these openings are managed as public dove fields.  Another tool the Corps uses to benefit wildlife is through pine thinning operations around the project.  Thinning practices along with the reforestation effort that includes planting hardwoods, promotes a healthy and diverse forest.  The Corps also maintains 40 wood duck and 78 blue bird boxes around the project to provide adequate nesting.

All Corps land, except for developed recreation areas, is open to hunting provided all state game laws are observed.  The Corps does manage some archery only areas available to the public.  In South Carolina there are four areas the Corps has designated as archery only.  These are SC River below the dam, Weldon Island (closed campground), Glenn Ferry (closed campground), and Choestoea.  In Georgia there are two areas the Corps has designated as archery only.  These are Georgia River/Quarry area and Paynes Creek Campground (after Sept 9th).  A complete set of Hunting Maps are available.  The SC River and Georgia River/Quarry area require a permit that is available from the Hartwell Project Office.  This permit is free and must be obtained in person.

There are numerous other small access areas that are open to archery hunting for deer, turkey & small game.  These areas include:

  • New Prospect Access Area in Hart County, GA (34 Acres)
  • Jenkins Ferry Access Area in Stephens County, GA (31 Acres)
  • Apple Island Access Area in Anderson County, SC (107 Acres)
  • Asbury Access Area in Anderson County, SC (27 Acres)
  • Denver Access Area in Anderson County, SC (19 Acres)
  • Townville Access Area in Anderson County, SC (23 Acres)
  • River Forks Access Area in Anderson County, SC (182 Acres) Note: Hunting is not permitted in the closed recreation area.
  • Camp Creek Access Area in Anderson County, SC (48 Acres)
  • Martin Creek Access Area in Oconee County, SC (60 Acres) 

A permit is required from the Corps of Engineers, Hartwell Lake, to hunt in the SC River Area and Quarry Area and will be available at no cost from the Hartwell Project Office beginning in late August each year.

Hunting for deer and turkey will be permitted during seasons as set by the state and will be restricted Archery Equipment Only.  Firearms are prohibited during deer and turkey season.

Hunting in developed recreation areas except as listed above is prohibited. 

No permanent stands can be constructed on Corps of Engineers property.  Climbing stands, lock-on stands, ladder stands and ground blinds can be used, but must be removed on the last day of deer and turkey season.

Small game hunting is allowed in all areas listed above, but only after the deer season is completed.  Hunting during small game season will be permitted with shotgun only using #4 shot or smaller.

South Carolina and Georgia regulations, seasons, bag limits, license requirements, etc. will be strictly enforced.

Feral Hog hunting is allowed on Hartwell Project Lands all year.  A special permit must be requested to hunt hogs outside the regular deer and turkey seasons.  The use of dogs is only allowed outside the state deer and turkey seasons.

Dove hunting is allowed Saturday and Wednesday only throughout the season as set be GA & SC's Department of Natural Resources.

Please contact Jason Corder at the Hartwell Project for questions and permitting.

Natural Resources Specialist Jason Corder:  1-888-893-0678 ext. 0332# or 706-856-0332.


Fisheries Management

The purpose of the Corps of Engineers' fisheries management program is to help maintain a quality sport-fish population for the enjoyment of present and future fishermen. Corps of Engineers’ management activities are coordinated with state, fishery agencies of both Georgia and South Carolina. During each spawning season, the Corps closely monitors lake temperatures and levels. Bass and crappie spawn in the spring when water temperatures approach 70°F, which at Hartwell Lake generally occurs during the third week in April. Because the fish spawn in shallow water, 1 - 8 feet deep, special care has to be taken to make sure that lake levels do not fluctuate too much and leave the eggs stranded. Therefore, from the time surface water temperatures reach 65°F until three weeks after the temperatures reach 70°F, Corps field personnel work with the Savannah District Hydropower Branch to keep the lake levels from fluctuating more than 6 inches. These efforts ensure that the bass and crappie will have the best conditions in which to reproduce.

Approximately every 5 years, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and the Corps of Engineers conduct a cooperative program to sample fish populations. All fish sampled are separated according to species and length and then weighed. With this data, estimates are made as to the number and types of fish per acre, the relative spawning success, the predator-to- prey relationship, and the general health of the total fish population. Fishery managers then use this information to decide on future stocking rates. In addition to this large survey, bass tournaments are randomly checked for the purpose of determining general population conditions.

To monitor water quality for both fish and public recreation, the Corps has established seven water quality sampling stations around the lake. In addition, a continuously recording, electronic sampling station has been installed downstream from the dam.

The Corps, in cooperation with South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, refurbishes fish attractor sites in Hartwell Lake with used Christmas trees from the after Christmas collection program.  Trees are weighted with cement blocks and sunk at locations marked with buoys.  A map showing fish attractor sites is available from the Hartwell Lake Office.

The sunken trees increase protective cover for both young and adult fish and help to concentrate catchable-sized fish for the public.  Also, decomposition of the trees helps in the production of phytoplankton, zooplankton and algae, which provide food for small fish.  


Fishing Related Links:


Forestry Management

After land was acquired for the Hartwell Project, many pine stands were planted in the 1950’s and 1960’s on former agricultural land surrounding the newly impounded Hartwell Lake.  Over time, many of these timber stands were not effectively managed.  Pine stands were not always thinned at appropriate intervals to ensure growth and vigor and improve species diversity.  As a result of the combined effect of these relatively large, dense stands on poor, highly erodible soils, many such areas are highly susceptible to harmful insects and tree diseases.  In recent years, the Corps has begun to transition these pure pine stands to more resilient and diverse stands dominated by hardwoods.

Due to the limited amount of public land surrounding Hartwell Lake and considerable private development immediately adjacent to public lands, extensive forest management activities are somewhat limited.  The goals of the Hartwell Project forest management program is to proactively manage timber resources, where feasible on larger tracts of public land, to promote the health, vigor, and diversity of project forests to support recreation and wildlife management programs, protect and improve water quality, improve public use and enjoyment of public lands, and provide a sustained yield of forestry products.  To help accomplish this goal, following any harvest operation, a diversity of hardwoods and pines are re-planted to ensure a transition from pure pine stands to diverse, aesthetically pleasing forests, sustainable in the future.

In areas where narrow shoreline buffer strips exist between adjacent private development and the lake, it is neither wise nor practicable to intensively manage forest resources.  In these areas, the Corps works closely with adjacent landowners to facilitate safe shoreline access by adjacent residents while minimizing impacts to the resource.  Through permits, adjacent landowners may be authorized to conduct limited underbrushing on public land and cut dead/diseased trees.  In addition, open areas are planted with a diverse mixture of trees to re-establish beneficial vegetation.  The ultimate goal is to provide safe access to the shoreline while maintaining a healthy stand of natural vegetation, which is critical to the health and beauty of the Hartwell Project.


Aquatic Plant Management

at Hartwell, Richard B. Russell, and J. Strom Thurmond Lakes

Aquatic plants are an important component of an aquatic ecosystem, providing habitat for fish and waterfowl. However, when fast-growing plant species become well established, they can reach nuisance levels. This occurs when aquatic plants impact common uses of an impoundment such as hydropower production, recreation, or navigation. Management of aquatic vegetation is necessary to maintain the value of multiple uses in many large reservoirs where nuisance levels of aquatic plants have been reached. An example of a nuisance aquatic plant in our area is Hydrilla verticillata, commonly referred to as hydrilla.

Hydrilla is native to Africa and is considered a noxious aquatic weed throughout much of the United States. This is due to the plant’s fast growth rate and ability to spread rapidly, often reaching nuisance levels that can require costly management and negatively impact reservoir purposes. Hydrilla often forms dense mats on the water surface, which limits shoreline uses by swimmers, bank fishermen, and boaters.

Hydrilla has not been located in Hartwell and Richard B. Russell Lakes. However, in late 1995, 55 acres of hydrilla were located in J. Strom Thurmond Lake (hydrilla has also been located in the Duke Power Company’s Keowee Lake which is located upstream of Hartwell Lake). In spite of aggressive aquatic herbicide treatments at Thurmond Lake, the known distribution of hydrilla has increased to approximately 4,985 acres.

At Thurmond Lake, hydrilla is present along approximately 305 miles of shoreline in Georgia and 105 miles of shoreline in South Carolina. Hydrilla can be found in areas of suitable substrate throughout Little River, GA, from the confluence of the Savannah River to upstream of Raysville Campground, including most tributaries. Along the Savannah River portion of the lake, hydrilla is present from Thurmond Dam to Elijah Clark State Park in Georgia and from the dam to Plum Branch Yacht Club in South Carolina. The known distribution of hydrilla has affected between 3 - 4 percent of Thurmond's 71,100-acre reservoir.

Fortunately in Thurmond Lake, hydrilla has not caused some of the problems associated with shallow lakes in the Southeast where it is present. The primary reason is that Thurmond Lake is relatively deep, with an average depth of 36 feet. Hydrilla typically cannot grow in waters greater than 20 feet. Second, most of the hydrilla present in the lake is the monoecious variety, which grows laterally along the lake bottom for most of the growing season before growing up to the surface in late August and September. It is estimated that 20 - 30 percent of the lake may eventually be affected by hydrilla. The effects will be most noticeable in the larger, shallow coves.

In response to the presence of hydrilla in Thurmond Lake as well as other aquatic plants of concern in Hartwell Lake, Richard B. Russell Lake, and the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam, the Aquatic Plant Management Plan (APMP) for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District Water Resources Projects was prepared in 1998. The APMP was coordinated with numerous state, federal, and local interests. The plan established treatment priorities based on impacts to authorized project purposes, funding, treatments by others, and environmental impacts. Treatment plans are prepared in January, based on plant distribution the previous summer and estimated funding. The plans are revised during the summer to reflect changes in plant abundance and available funding.

It is the goal of the aquatic plant management program to minimize impacts to authorized project purposes caused by nuisance levels of aquatic vegetation. However, all programs must compete for limited funding. Therefore, the Army Corps of Engineers will not be able to treat all areas where aquatic vegetation reaches nuisance levels. Furthermore, as stewards of taxpayer money, it is understood that the benefits derived from treatment should exceed the cost of treatment. It is imperative that strong partnerships with state agencies, county governments, and private concessionaires be formed in order to meet public use demands.

Why Manage It?
Hydrilla is expected to eventually migrate to all areas of suitable habitat within Thurmond Lake. Up to 20% to 30% of the lake’s surface area could be affected.
Efforts to eradicate hydrilla in other large Southeastern U.S. lakes have proved ineffective and expensive. The Corps of Engineers at J. Strom Thurmond Lake will treat or allow others (permit required) to treat hydrilla with herbicides in areas of high public use. Such areas include shorelines around recreation areas, campgrounds, boat ramps, private docks, and municipal water intakes.

Adjoining property owners at J. Strom Thurmond Lake may treat hydrilla around their docks provided they obtain a permit from the J. Strom Thurmond Project Office. There is no charge for the permit. An individual who is licensed by the state in the aquatic herbicide category must apply the herbicide. Permits are not required for the cutting and removing of aquatic vegetation from around private boat docks and single lane boat channels if work is accomplished with hand tools only.

Help prevent the spread of aquatic plants! Hydrilla and other aquatic plants are often transported unintentionally when boats are towed from one lake to another. Boaters are reminded to make sure their boat, boat trailer, and live well are free of aquatic plants before leaving the launching area of any lake. Place any plants you remove into a garbage container. DO NOT put them back into the lake. NEVER intentionally plant hydrilla or other nuisance aquatic plants in any waters. By doing these simple things, you can help protect the lakes you use and the aquatic resources within them. Please help ensure the quality of our lakes for future generations.

Learn more about nuisance aquatic plants! There are numerous other aquatic plants that have the potential to negatively impact our lakes if they are accidentally introduced. These plants include water hyacinth, eurasian watermilfoil, water lettus, and giant salvinia.

For more information on aquatic plants visit the following web sites:


Environmental Stewardship

Like private companies, state agencies, and local governments, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must follow the numerous public laws which safeguard the environment. Programs and trained personnel are in place to assure compliance with these laws. Prior to any ground disturbing activity at Hartwell Lake, Richard B. Russell, and J. Strom Thurmond Lakes, endangered species surveys, wetlands delineation, and cultural resources surveys are conducted. When concerns are identified, plans are modified to reduce or eliminate possible environmental impacts. For new undertakings not covered by the existing Environmental Impact Statement and Master Plan, either an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement is prepared as appropriate.

Over the past 10 years, numerous changes have been made within the powerplants to reduce environmental concerns. Environmental friendly cleaners and lubricants are being used whenever possible. Controls are in place to reduce the potential of a lubricant spill into the Savannah River below the dam. Finally, whenever hazardous materials must be disposed of, it is done so in accordance with all federal and state laws.  

The public is encouraged to take an active role in environmental stewardship at the lake during each and every visit by protecting the land and water from trash, gray water, and other pollutants.  Groups and individuals are welcome to volunteer in a variety of capacities to assist in the care of the many resources at the lakes.  Annual lake clean-ups take place each August - September at Hartwell, Richard B. Russell and J. Strom Thurmond Lakes.  To reach the volunteer Coordinators call the appropriate lake office.