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Public Land Protection Policy FAQ

Here we answer frequently asked questions about the Public Land Protection Policy, which lays the foundation for TVA to take necessary steps to strengthen its education and outreach efforts regarding protection of public land.

Why does TVA need a Public Land Protection Policy?

The Public Land Protection Policy (PLP Policy) lays the foundation for TVA to take necessary steps to strengthen its education and outreach efforts regarding protection of public land. In addition, the Policy will allow TVA to create land management regulations and align itself with other federal agencies who manage public land.

How does this Policy integrate with the Land Policy?

TVA’s Land Policy was approved by the Board of Directors in 2006. The Land Policy described the importance of TVA public land and TVA’s intention to manage it wisely for present and future generations. The PLP Policy is a complement to the Land Policy and describes further TVA’s intention to protect these public lands from abuse and privatization.

What is TVA public land?

TVA owns and manages approximately 293,000 acres of public land around its 49 reservoirs. In addition, TVA still owns approximately 470,000 acres of land that has been inundated by the reservoirs, some of which is exposed during the part of the year.

TVA manages this reservoir land for the public to meet various objectives and balance competing demands. The land surrounding each reservoir is planned for certain uses in TVA’s Reservoir Land Management Planning process (see more about these plans below). There are many factors that impact these use decisions, including deeded rights, contractual obligations, the presence of protected resources and economic development initiatives.

TVA has been entrusted to manage this land for the citizens of the United States of America, and all Americans have a right to enjoy its use. While much of this land is available for use by the general public, it must also be preserved for future generations. TVA, as the landowner, has custody and control of the land and makes decisions pertaining to its use.

TVA’s management of this public land won’t always look like what you might expect. In many cases, TVA’s objective is to preserve the natural state of the property; that doesn’t always require human intervention. While we appreciate the public’s interest in helping TVA in its responsibilities, “cleaning up” the vegetation or other activities to make the property “look nice” isn’t helpful, and may result in serious consequences.

How can I find out where TVA public land is located?

There are a few options to help you find this information. The easiest is to visit our Recreation on TVA Undeveloped Lands page. This interactive map quickly shows you where undeveloped TVA public land available for recreational use is located and allows you to search by address to find TVA public land near you. When you’re out on the land, you may see TVA property boundary markers or TVA Public Land signs to help point you in the right direction.

If you’d like to learn more about how TVA manages each parcel of land on its reservoirs, check out our Reservoir Land Management Plans. There are color coded Land Plan maps for each reservoir that show TVA public land, and the colors indicate which allocation zone has been designated for each parcel of public land.

If you don’t have access to the Web, you can always call our Public Land Information Center for help at (800) TVA-LAND (882-5263).

What uses are allowable on TVA property? What uses are not allowable?

The Rules for Use of TVA Public Lands page is a good place to start when searching for allowable uses on TVA property. In general, TVA public land is available to the general public to enjoy for low-impact recreational activities such as hiking, bird watching, bank fishing and hunting (unless otherwise posted). High-impact recreational activities, such as motorized vehicle use or long-term camping, are generally not allowed.

Also, any activities that result in trash dumping or damage to or defacement of federal property (including but not limited to signs, kiosks, fences, boundary markers and archaeological resources) are strictly prohibited.

Construction or placement of structures or impacts to vegetation are not allowed without permission from TVA. In some locations, water-use facilities and other residential access are allowed with permission from TVA.

During its land planning process, TVA allocates its public land to one of seven land planning zones. See our Reservoir Land Management Plans page for more information about the zone designations and the allowable land uses for each zone.

How does TVA currently resolve unauthorized use or abuse of public land?

Unfortunately, there are many instances of unauthorized use or abuse of TVA public land. This could involve (1) non-compliance with regulations or contracts (such as a Section 26a permit); (2) placement or construction of a structure on public land without the permission of TVA (may also be known as a trespass); or (3) abuse of TVA property (such as dumping of trash).

TVA prioritizes the resolution of these unauthorized uses based on health and safety threats and the nature of the impacts. TVA will notify the responsible party of the issue and encourages voluntary compliance. If unsuccessful, TVA can take necessary steps to remedy the issue, such as removal of the structure, revocation of the contract or in some cases court action.

I know of a violation or encroachment on TVA public land. What do I do?

Since TVA staff can’t be everywhere at all times, we appreciate notification from the public about abuse or destruction you may find on TVA public land. Please contact the Public Land Information Center at (800) TVA-LAND (882-5263) or the TVA Police at (855) 476-2489.