Public hearings have been scheduled on environmental aspects of Duke Energy's Catawba River hydroelectric license, which is up for renewal.
Federal hydro licenses remain in force for up to 50 years. Their renewals offer a rare chance for the public to have its say on how lakes and rivers are managed by power companies.
Duke agreed to proposed license terms in 2006 after negotiations with dozens of government agencies, interest groups and individuals.
The company said it would take steps to improve the Catawba environment, such as by releasing more water from its dams, and expand recreation by offering land for parks and scheduling water releases for paddlers. Devices to help migrating fish swim around dams will be installed.
The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which will issue the license, recommended that Duke add some other provisions. Among them:
Modify the dam of South Carolina's Lake Wateree to better control flooding.
Add recreational facilities on Lake Wateree and Lake Cornelius, north of Charlotte.
More gradually increase and decrease water flows for paddlers.
Consider adding wildlife-viewing platforms.
Update public information about the river, possibly on a Web site.
FERC also says the endangered Schweinitz's sunflower could be harmed by Duke's operations. It has asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is in charge of protecting the plant, for a biological opinion by August.