U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul joined their colleagues from Tennessee, Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, in introducing the Freedom to Fish Act today. The legislation would prevent the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from installing physical barriers along portions of the Cumberland River, which would block fishing access to the tailwaters of the Barkley and Wolf Creek Dams.
"I have heard from many Kentuckians, including County Judge Executives and officials at the Kentucky Division of Fish and Wildlife, who are concerned with the Corps plan to block access to areas which are popular with anglers from across the Commonwealth. They have expressed their opposition to the proposal, which they say would have a major impact on the communities near the dams and to Kentucky's economy," Sen. McConnell said. "Instead of imposing burdensome federal regulations, which this Administration believes is the solution to every problem, I believe the Corps should work with these communities on alternative proposals that ensure safety, but allow anglers access to waters they have safely fished for years."
"There is a deep love for fishing in the tailwaters of the Cumberland River, and to deny the public this recreational activity would not only disappoint thousands of fishermen across the country, but lead to detrimental impacts on the area's economy," Sen. Paul said. "Safety can be promoted in this area without completely blocking all boating below the dams, and by working together I believe we can come to a solution without imposing burdensome regulations that seek to hurt local businesses and residents."
Senators McConnell and Paul have heard from local officials who told them that one such alternative is for the Corps to focus their efforts on the rare occasions when the dam gates are open and spilling, apparently the only time when the waters themselves present an active danger.