Sen. Alexander still battling Corps’ plans to restrict fishing below dams

Senator Lamar Alexander

Senator Lamar Alexander

CELINA-Tennessee U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander and other elected officials have taken further steps in their fight against plans introduced by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restrict fishing above and below dams here and across the region.

Alexander recently sent a letter with a group of nine senators and congressmen to a top Corps official, urging her to “take immediate action to delay” Corps plans to restrict fishing below dams on the Cumberland River, following the U.S. Senate’s unanimous decision to oppose to the restrictions, according to a news release from the senator’s office.

“On March 23, the United States Senate unanimously passed an amendment to the budget resolution signaling Congress’ strong opposition to the Corps’ proposed fishing restrictions on the Cumberland River,” the release said the letter states. “The passage of this amendment sends a clear message to the Corps, and we believe the Corps should stop wasting $2.6 million in taxpayer money to enforce these unnecessary and unreasonable fishing restrictions.”

The letter was to Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy. In addition to Alexander, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and U.S. Reps. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.) and Andy Barr (R-Ky.) signed onto the letter.

The release said the letter also pressed Darcy to reconsider the plan to erect physical barriers to tailwaters below 10 dams on the Cumberland, in light of spending cuts under the sequester. Alexander made that request to Darcy in person on March 4, asking her to instead work with state officials toward a compromise to address safety concerns.

Alexander’s release said the letter continues, “There were more important priorities than restricting public access to fishing areas before the sequester, and there are even more critical needs that the Corps should address after the sequester.”

It also states intentions to continue pressing for passage of the “Freedom to Fish Act.” The Senate’s action on March 23 allowed for Congress to pass legislation prohibiting the Corps form enacting its plan.

If the Corps’ plans are implemented, signs, barriers, and buoys will be installed above and below dams all over Middle Tennessee and Kentucky, including here on Dale Hollow Lake.

Locally, anglers can expect to see waters below Dale Hollow Dam closed from the structure 500 feet downstream and 100 feet from the dam on the lake side.