U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, (KY-01), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, today announced that he is demanding the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to consider alternative options to permanent barrel blockades along the Cumberland River as a means to allowing conditional boating access to river tailwaters for sportsmen and recreational fishermen.
"Boating and fishing are longstanding pastimes for many people in Kentucky, which is why I've been sitting down and having conversations with the Army Corps of Engineers to seek alternatives to permanent blockades along Cumberland River dams," stated Whitfield. "I will continue working with the Corps to come up with a reasonable solution to allow conditional boating access to river tailwaters for sportsmen and recreational fishermen, but considering the response that I have received from the Corps so far, I feel as though I have a responsibility to also pursue a legislative path."
Since learning of the Corps of Engineers Nashville District's decision to fully enforce restricted boating access along 10 Cumberland River dams, Whitfield has been in communication with officials from the USACE in an attempt to seek an alternative solution.
Below is a timeline of the ongoing communications.
December 20, 2012: Rep. Whitfield participated in a conference call with County Judges White and Lasher, and Lt. Colonel DeLapp, Commander of the Nashville district of the USACE. On the call, Whitfield requested that Lt. Colonel DeLapp considers all options to increase public safety. He also requested that the Corps allow public input before the barriers are constructed.
December 21, 2012: Rep. Whitfield sent a letter to Lt. General Thomas Bostick, Commanding General and Chief of Engineers for the USACE. In the letter, Whitfield relayed Judges White and Lasher's concerns regarding permanent barriers.
January 10, 2013: Rep. Whitfield attended a public meeting with nearly 200 other people hosted by USACE in Grand Rivers to seek public input regarding the proposed barriers.
February 5, 2013: Rep. Whitfield met with Major General Michael Walsh to further discuss restrictions and to urge USACE to re-examine the decision to permanently restrict boating access to the tailwaters. Also attending the meeting were United States Senator Lamar Alexander and Congressman Jim Cooper. During this meeting, the County Judges and Rep. Whitfield offered a compromise to restrict the tailwater zone only at times when the dam is operating.
Whitfield stated that he will continue working with the Corps, local residents, local officials and his colleagues in Congress to come up with alternative solutions to permanent barriers in the upcoming days and weeks. In the coming weeks, Rep. Whitfield intends to introduce legislation that would require a study of the consequences and benefits of a blockade of the tailwater fishing area.