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TVA River Neighbors

TVA explores ways to optimize public value of reservoir land

The headlines about TVA’s new land policy may have faded, but TVA is continuing to explore ways to optimize the public value of reservoir land.

Woody Farrell, manager of TVA’s Little Tennessee Watershed Team, is on special assignment to determine if reservoir lands designated for recreation and economic development remain suitable for those uses.

The TVA Board of Directors approved a new land policy on November 30. After reviewing more than 5,000 comments from the public, organizations, elected officials, and government agencies, the TVA Board decided to ban the sale of TVA land for residential development or retail development. However, the new policy specifies that, within a six-month period, TVA survey its recreational and industrial lands to determine if such uses remain suitable.

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Veteran watershed team manager Woody Farrell is heading an ongoing assessment of TVA-managed reservoir lands and mineral holdings.

“That’s where my role comes in,” says Farrell.

“In reference to the recreation survey, we will only grant a lease or easement if the property is designated for those uses in a reservoir land-management plan and if we determine the site remains suitable for such uses. That’s the purpose of the ongoing assessment: to provide the basis for making a determination of suitability.

“The new policy also allows TVA to dispose of land or land rights for industrial purposes or other businesses if the TVA property is located in an existing industrial park or is designated for such purposes in a current reservoir land-management plan—and, again, if we determine the site remains suitable for such use.”

Preference in use of land for industrial purposes is given to businesses that require water access, for example, companies which receive or ship goods by barge or that depend on the river for water supply.

Farrell believes the assessment has the potential to enhance the region’s competitive position. “If we can identify sites that would be a high priority for economic or industrial development, this will give us a head start on environmental reviews and makes us better prepared when contending for job-rich development with multiple economic benefits.”

But the assessment has a much broader purpose, Farrell says.

“The basic objective is to ensure that the future use of TVA-managed land provides the greatest benefit and most public value and that it is used for the most appropriate purpose. The continued growth pressures we expect across the Tennessee Valley and the scarcity of land make it imperative that we plan well for the future.”

View TVA’s land policy.

Reservoir land planning update

TVA is working on the development of a reservoir land management plan to guide land-use decisions on approximately 6,200 acres of TVA-managed public lands located along nine mountain reservoirs: Ocoee No. 1, Ocoee No. 2, Ocoee No. 3, Apalachia, Blue Ridge, Hiwassee, Nottely, Chatuge, and Fontana. Preliminary information and maps are being developed and will be available on this spring. Public scoping, which includes meetings with interested stakeholders to discuss current and future land uses, is scheduled to begin this summer.

image of lakeWork to update the 1988 Watts Bar Reservoir Land Management Plan is continuing. Proposed revisions, along with a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, will be available for public review this summer.

Work on a land management plan for eight eastern reservoirs — Wilbur, Watauga, South Holston, Fort Patrick Henry, Boone, Douglas, and Cherokee  — will begin soon.

TVA will continue to provide updates on these land plans in River Neighbors and through If you would like to be added to the mailing list to receive notices about opportunities for input, call 1-800-TVA-LAND, or e-mail us at



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