A white-tailed deer walks through a winter scene on TVA public land. (Photo: Contributed)

 TVA’s natural resources group uses winter land condition assessments to help discourage illegal and destructive behavior while planning positive actions to improve the environment.

Despite the recent bitterly cold temperatures, natural resources staff has been conducting these assessments across the Tennessee Valley.

“We’re achieving some real milestones,” said Jack Muncy, senior specialist, reservoir land condition. “We’ve assessed over 125,000 acres out of 180,000. On top of that, we haven’t had a ‘red flag’ since 2014.”

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Red flags refer to serious violations, such as timber theft and other illegal acts on TVA-managed property. Muncy and his team have reduced the number to zero in recent years, partially because their efforts have driven away would-be wrongdoers.

“We’re making sure we’re out there walking the land, checking boundaries and making ourselves seen—that visibility is discouraging people from doing these things,” Muncy said. “It speaks directly to our mission of protecting the public lands in our care.”

Discouraging unacceptable uses of TVA land benefits everyone, according to Muncy.

“When there’s no trash dump and the roads aren’t rutted from ATVs, that’s a nice place you want to take your family,” he said.

Muncy helped develop a standardized land condition assessment process for TVA in which employees evaluate resource conditions, check property boundaries, document stewardship needs and then develop prioritized task lists to address those needs, adding everything to a centralized database.

“Overall, our task is to strike a balance between encouraging folks to enjoy the land and making sure its resources are protected,” Muncy said.

An important aspect of winter land condition assessments is that they can reveal land features that might be covered by vegetation in other seasons.

Natural resources senior manager James Adams recently went along with Muncy on an assessment.

“Jack wore me out,” he said. “We spent a long, hard day outside performing assessments on the coldest day of the year. It speaks to how dedicated these employees are to their work.”

TVA manages its public land for recreation or preservation purposes according to policies set forth in reservoir land management plans, or RLMPs. Learn more about RLMPs here.

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