Corps will restrict fishing near dams despite opposition on multiple fronts

CELINA-Despite overwhelming opposition from anglers and public officials–including U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander and others, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced last week they were “beginning to implement permanent full-time waterborne restrictions around the 10 dams on the Cumberland River and its tributaries,” which will end fishing access here immediately above and below Dale Hollow Dam and at many others across the region.

“This is a waste of taxpayer dollars and an unreasonable interference with the right to fish below the dams the public owns,” Alexander said in a response to the Corps announcing their intentions. “We will therefore move ahead in the U.S. Senate next week with legislation to ensure the freedom of Americans to fish in these waters at times that the state wildlife agencies believe is consistent with reasonable efforts to ensure public safety.”

The Corps news release said “enforcement of these restrictions will be effective when the placement of buoys and sufficient signs is completed at each dam,” which “will continue through the spring and summer of 2013.”

The information explained “the district will not be installing physical barriers at this time,” but instead will rely on the buoys and signs to mark the restricted areas.

Alexander previously introduced the “Freedom to Fish Act” to prohibit the Corps from restricting access to the tailwaters, noting that the waters are only dangerous 20 percent of the time. Cosponsors included Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), as well as U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) in the House.

On March 23, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution to the budget that would allow for Congress to pass legislation prohibiting the Corps’ plan. Alexander has also held a range of meetings with Corps officials, encouraging the Corps to work with Tennessee and Kentucky wildlife agencies on a compromise to ensure safety.

For the complete Corps news release and other information concerning the new restrictions, visit their website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil.