Alexander Pushes U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers To Reconsider Fishing Restrictions

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) on Tuesday, in a meeting with Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Capitol hosted by U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), said that he will explore writing legislation to change the law in order to stop the Corps’ current plan to restrict access to dam tailwaters along the Cumberland River. Senator Alexander urged Maj. Gen. Walsh to consider alternatives that would keep people safe when dams are spilling while allowing full access to the tailwaters when the dams are not spilling.

Of the meeting, Senator Alexander said, “The tailwaters are only dangerous when the water is spilling through the dam, and when it’s not, tailwaters provide some of the best fishing areas in the U.S., attracting thousands of fishermen and creating hundreds of jobs in Tennessee and Kentucky. For example, water spills through the Center Hill dam about 14 percent of the time. The most logical solution would be to make the area safe when the danger exists: To close the tailwaters to fishing 100 percent of the time would be like keeping the gate down at the railroad crossing 100 percent of the time – the track is not dangerous when the train is not coming, and the tailwaters are not dangerous when the water is not spilling through the dam.”

Senator Alexander sent a letter on Tuesday to Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy, voicing his “strong opposition” to the Corps plan that would divert $2.6 million in federal money toward barriers restricting access to the tailwaters. In the letter, Senator Alexander highlighted the importance of the fishing areas, both recreationally and economically: “The Cumberland River system is enjoyed by Tennesseans and visitors from around the world, and the open access of the Cumberland River system is critical to our recreational fishermen and is an important part of Tennessee’s economy.”

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

The full text of the letter is below:

The Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy

Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works)

108 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310

Dear Assistant Secretary Darcy:

I am writing to express my strong opposition to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to restrict access to fishing areas in tailwaters below dams on the Cumberland River system.

On December 6th, I met with Lt. Colonel James DeLapp, Commander of the Nashville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to discuss the proposed restrictions.  While I understand the importance of improving boater safety, the Corps is planning to divert previously appropriated federal funding to implement the proposed restrictions.  I received a list of projects in the Nashville District that will be affected by the Corps’ decision, and I am very concerned about some of the proposed actions which include delaying maintenance activities and reducing services at recreation areas.

I also want to make you aware that the Corps’ actions will have a significant impact on fisheries in Tennessee and Kentucky, and the Corps’ proposed restrictions are opposed by both state wildlife agencies.  The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Tennessee Wildlife Federation believe that further restricting access to tailwater areas is unnecessary, and I agree with them.  You should consider reasonable alternatives to improve public safety, not unilaterally prohibit access to some of the highest quality fishing areas in my state.  Changes should only be considered after a thorough review of all public comments and suggestions, which will not happen if the Corps proceeds according to their proposed timeline. I am concerned that the proper environmental assessment has not occurred, and I am evaluating legislative options to prevent the Corps from going forward.

I would like to talk with you directly about the Corps’ decision before the Corps takes any further action.  The Cumberland River system is enjoyed by Tennesseans and visitors from around the world, and the open access of the Cumberland River system is critical to our recreational fishermen and is an important part of Tennessee’s economy.

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to meeting with you.

Sincerely, 

Lamar Alexander

United States Senator


Tennessee's 2014 Dove Season Opens Labor Day; Early Canada Goose Season Also Starts

Dove season opens on Labor Day, at noon (local time), which marks the annual start of one of Tennessee’s most long-standing outdoor sports traditions. Tennessee’s 2014 season is again be divided into three segments: Sept. 1 through Sept. 28; Oct. 11 through Nov. 2; and Nov. 29 through Jan. 6, 2015. Hunting times, other than opening day, are one-half hour before sunrise until ... (click for more)

Executive Director Of Nashville's Urban Green Lab Is Nature At Noontime Presenter

Jennifer Tlumak, executive director of the Urban Green Lab in Nashville, will be the guest presenter for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Nature at Noontime. The program will be held on Thursday, Sept. 4, from noon-1 p.m. at the TWRA Region II Ray Bell Building A Nashville native, Ms. Tlumak’s experience includes work as an energy efficient analyst at the U.S. Department ... (click for more)

Bradley, 24, Charged In Death Of 3-Year-Old Boy At Soddy Daisy

Justin Dale Bradley has been charged with criminal homicide in the death of a three-year-old child, who was rushed to the hospital on Wednesday and later died. Authorities said Bradley, 24, is the boyfriend of the child's mother. The mother earlier took out an order of protection against Bradley, and he was arrested for violating the order. The Hamilton County Sheriff’s ... (click for more)

Shooting Of 15-Year-Old Began As Argument Between Teens

According to police, the Tuesday night shooting of a juvenile on Taylor Street started as an argument between the two young men. Terry Marshell Smith Jr., 19, was arrested the following day. Police said the former Hixson High School student shot the juvenile in the shoulder after their argument and then fled the scene.  According to police, Smith admitted to the shooting. ... (click for more)

Better Plan For Walnut Street Hotel

Mitch Patel and his Vision Hospitality Group have unveiled a revised plan for a hotel on Walnut Street. It is much better than the one proposed two years ago. By having no curb cuts on Walnut Street, it makes that special block near the bridge more inviting and safer for pedestrians. Deliveries would be off Riverfront Parkway and hotel access (valet parking) would be off Aquarium ... (click for more)

Thanks For Making The Southern Brewers Festival A Success

Now that the dust has settled I'd like to thank Chattanooga for supporting the Southern Brewers Festival and making it yet another very successful event.    For those who do not know - the SBF benefits the Chattanooga chapter of Kids on the Block and the Chattanooga Community Kitchen.  As a partner helping the SBF with volunteers, sponsorships and the overall production ... (click for more)