Alexander On Tailwater Fishing: Corps Agrees To Hold Public Meetings, Consider Alternatives

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) on Thursday met with Lt. Colonel James A. DeLapp, Commander of the Nashville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at Senator Alexander’s request, to discuss the Corps’ decision to restrict access to fishing areas in dam tailwaters on the Cumberland River System, which Senator Alexander said is “a significant source of enjoyment for Tennesseans and visitors from around the world.”

In the meeting, Senator Alexander asked Colonel DeLapp to give the public the opportunity to voice their concerns and hold several public meetings to take input from the people and communities affected by the Corps’ decision. He also encouraged Colonel DeLapp to “look at alternatives to the new policy” and requested that “if the Corps moves forward in restricting fishing in dam tailwaters, to restrict it to the smallest area possible, consistent with the Corps’ safety requirements.”

Senator Alexander thanked Colonel DeLapp for agreeing to both of his requests.

Senator Alexander is the senior Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Water, which has jurisdiction over the Army Corps of Engineers.

On Nov. 20, he sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers urging reconsideration of their decision. He wrote: “At a minimum, I believe that any change of this magnitude should be subject to a public comment period so those who enjoy fishing can have an opportunity to express their concerns and propose alternatives to improve public safety. Changes should only be considered after a thorough review of all public comments and suggestions.”

In the letter, Senator Alexander requested a personal report on the situation from Colonel DeLapp prior to any change in practice. That personal report was delivered in Thursday’s meeting with Senator Alexander in his Washington office.

The full text of the letter is below:

November 20, 2012

Lt. Colonel James A. DeLapp

Commander, Nashville District

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

P.O. Box 1070

Nashville, TN 37202-1070

Dear Colonel DeLapp:

I am writing to express my concerns about your decision to restrict access to fishing areas in dam tailwaters on the Cumberland River system and recommend that you reconsider that decision.  
 
The Cumberland River system is a significant source of enjoyment for Tennesseans and visitors from around the world.  Those who enjoy fishing and the businesses that serve them benefit from the open access of the Cumberland River system, and the revenue that is generated by these activities is an important part of Tennessee’s economy.
 
It is my understanding that the current practice has not resulted in a significantly higher risk to public safety than is experienced at other dams across the country.  The current practice is strongly supported by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and they share my view that restricting access to tailwater areas is unnecessary.  At a minimum, I believe that any change of this magnitude should be subject to a public comment period so those who enjoy fishing can have an opportunity to express their concerns and propose alternatives to improve public safety.  Changes should only be considered after a thorough review of all public comments and suggestions.
 
I look forward to talking with you directly on this issue to discuss any proposed changes prior to their enactment.  Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,
 
Lamar Alexander


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