By Jim Cook
U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, wants the Army Corps of Engineers to work with local residents to prevent a complete halt to recreational traffic through locks and dams the corps currently plans to close in October.
Roby, along with Sen. Jeff Sessions and Reps. Jo Bonner, Mike Rogers, Robert Aderholt, Mo Brooks, Spencer Bachus and Terri Sewell signed a letter expressing concerns with the Corps' plan, including the economic impact it would have by affecting bass fishing tournaments in Montgomery, Eufaula and Guntersville.
"Several constituents contacted me concerned about confusion over what changes the Corps of Engineers has planned for the locks. My office had direct talks with corps officials in Washington seeking to get to the bottom of the situation and clear up any misunderstandings," Roby said. "The letter was an opportunity for the delegation to express our joint concern over the Corps' operational changes and ask for more specifics about its plans going forward. The impact of the Corps' policy on operating locks is felt throughout Alabama, so it is important that the delegation speaks with one voice."
The corps plans to close locks and dams it has identified as low traffic areas to recreational traffic on Oct. 7. The closures would allow the corps to reduce its operational budgets at the facilities and eliminate some staff.
Locks and dams allow boats to travel through otherwise difficult to navigate stretches of waterway. Boats pull into locks which either fill with water or drain to allow boats to travel up or down river. The closure plan affects the Chattahoochee and Alabama rivers.
The letter urges the Corps to work with local residents to find a way to save taxpayer money while still providing some service to recreational boat traffic.