U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, (KY-01), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, today continued his push for answers from the Nashville District of United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) regarding the Corps' rationale behind prohibiting recreational boating and fishing on the tailwaters of Cumberland River dams.
"Recreation and fishing are vital to the economic viability of the Land Between the Lakes region in Kentucky and Tennessee," stated Whitfield in his letter to the Nashville District of the Corps. "This economic activity, while small in the grand scope of our entire economy, ensures that people in this region have a job and are able to provide for their family. Simply put, the lakes and rivers are vital to their survival as is their access to recreation and fishing. While the Tennessee Valley Authority continues to allow fishing on its dams located on the Tennessee River, it is disheartening that the Corps has refused to allow fishing near the dams on the Cumberland River, of which it has jurisdiction."
Whitfield has been critical of the Corps' plan to restrict access to the tailwaters along Cumberland River dams. Below is a timeline of Whitfield's work on this issue.
December 20, 2012: Whitfield participates in conference call with County Judges White and Lasher, and Lt. Colonel DeLapp, Commander of the Nashville district of the USACE, to request that DeLapp consider all options to increase public safety. Whitfield also requests that the Corps allow public input before the barriers are constructed.
December 21, 2012: Whitfield sends a letter to Lt. General Thomas Bostick, Commanding General and Chief of Engineers for the USACE to relay Judges White and Lasher's concerns regarding permanent barriers.
January 10, 2013: Whitfield attends 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: Whitfield meets 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. Senator Lamar Alexander and Rep. Jim Cooper also attend. Whitfield and the county judges offer a compromise to restrict the tailwater zone only at times when the dam is operating.
February 15, 2013: Whitfield publicly demands that the USACE come up with an alternative to a permanent blockade along Cumberland River dams. Whitfield also releases a discussion draft of a bill that would require an environmental assessment study prior to taking any action to establish permanent blockades.
February 26, 2013: Realizing that the USACE is unwilling to settle for a reasonable alternative, Whitfield introduces H.R. 826, The Freedom to Fish Act to prevent the USACE from permanently restricting the tailwater areas and the installment of permanent blockades.
March 4, 2013: Whitfield and Senator Alexander meet with Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary for the Army for Civil Works. Whitfield asks Assistant Secretary Darcy to consider a compromise to restrict the tailwater zone only when the dam is operating, and you ask that she suspend implementation of the restricted areas and solicitation of public bids to build the buoyline barricades due to sequestration. Whitfield and Senator Alexander also present her with a letter on the same topic.
March 29, 2013: Whitfield authors an opinion-editorial vowing to continue fighting against the installation of permanent barriers along Cumberland River dams. He encourages Kentuckians to contact the Nashville District of the Corps at 615-736-7161 to tell them to stop with the intrusive assault on the Commonwealth's fishermen.