U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decision to remove buoys restricting access to fishing areas below dams on the Cumberland River -- in compliance with legislation he sponsored that became law on June 3 -- is "the right way to end the fishing controversy."
"This preserves the freedom to fish for generations of Americans who enjoy fishing below the dams on the Cumberland River, and does so in a way that gives the appropriate state wildlife agencies authority for boating safety," Alexander said.
The Corps announced today the decision to remove buoys it previously put in place as part of its plan to restrict access beneath 10 dams on the Cumberland River in Tennessee and Kentucky. The announcement follows the June 3 enactment of a law Alexander sponsored in the Senate that prohibits the Corps from implementing restrictions for two years, while also delegating enforcement below the dams to appropriate state agencies.
In addition to the two-year ban that became law June 3, the U.S. Senate also passed on May 15 Alexander's permanent solution as part of the Water Resources Development Act. That permanent solution would prevent the Corps from establishing physical barriers, require that any further action be based on actual operating conditions -- as opposed to 24 hours per day -- and give sole responsibility for enforcement of restricted areas below dams to the states.
The U.S. House of Representatives has not yet taken up its version of the Water Resources Development Act, which Alexander said made it necessary to pass the two-year ban.
Alexander's legislation, known as the "Freedom to Fish Act," was cosponsored by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). A similar version was sponsored in the house by U.S. Reps. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and Andy Barr (R-Ky.).