Today, U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) released the following statements in response to restrictions announced by the Army Corps of Engineers today that would restrict access to fishermen in the tailwaters below dams in Kentucky and Tennessee. The Senators recently introduced legislation, the Freedom to Fish Act, to protect these areas from unreasonable regulation by the Corps.
"What is at issue here is our state's freedom to regulate its waters appropriately. These restrictions come with no justification and do not even reflect policies carried out in other Corps' districts. My colleagues and I have tried to facilitate a compromise solution with the community, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Department, and the Army Corps of Engineers, but the Corps has not been amenable to our efforts. Folks in this area should have the freedom to fish these waters without a one-size-fits-all Washington solution dictated by an out-of-control Administration. I will continue to fight with my colleagues to get our legislation passed and put an end to this unreasonable restriction," Sen. Paul said.
"I remain opposed to this proposal because the Corps still plans to restrict access to the tailwaters of these dams 24 hours per day, 7 days per week rather than focusing efforts on when the dam gates are open and spilling, apparently the only time the waters themselves present an active danger. This plan demonstrates a complete disregard for the people affected most directly by the policy and is yet another example of this Administration forcing burdensome regulations on communities rather than working with them to ensure safety. Blocking fishing access to the tailwaters of Lake Barkley and Wolf Creek will not only rob fishermen of a beloved pastime, it will also impair tourism in the area and depress the Kentucky economy. I will continue to work with my colleagues to pass the Freedom to Fish Act that will protect Kentuckians' right to access waters anglers have safely fished for years," Sen. McConnell said.
"This is a waste of taxpayer dollars and an unreasonable interference with the right to fish below the dams the public owns. We will therefore move ahead in the U.S. Senate next week with legislation to ensure the freedom of Americans to fish in these waters at times that the state wildlife agencies believe is consistent with reasonable efforts to ensure public safety," Sen. Alexander said.