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

Tuesday, February 5, 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


Trail Repair Work Beginning On Red Trail In Chickamauga Battlefield

The National Park Service is advising the beginning of repair work on a 1.09 mile section of the Red Trail located in the northwest corner of the Chickamauga Battlefield. This section is part of the equestrian trail that intersects the yellow trail. The park is utilizing an agreement with the Southeast Conservation Corp to have a student work crew repair the trail ... (click for more)

Legendary Angler Bill Dance To Help Feed Homeless Donated Venison At Chattanooga Community Kitchen

Legendary angler and Tennessee native, Bill Dance, is joining a program called Hunt.Fish.Feed, that feeds those less fortunate across the country venison donated by local sportsmen and women.    Mr. Dance will be at the Community Kitchen from  11 a.m.–1:30 p.m. on   Friday, July 8,  to help serve guests.  Outdoor Sportsman Group Networks ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Man Charged In Traffic Death Of Tunnel Hill Woman, 28

Authorities said a Signal Mountain man was driving when his vehicle struck and killed a woman walking along a road at Ringgold, Ga., on Thursday night. Tyler Alexander Lemley, 20, was charged with DUI. Other charges are pending. Kimberly Diane Dotson, 28, of Tunnel Hill, Ga., was walking southbound on the west edge of Sam Lewis Road when she was hit. Lemley was driving ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Woman Sues Over Treatment Of Disabled Daughter At Memphis Airport Security Checkpoint

A Chattanooga woman has filed suit, alleging that her disabled daughter was roughed up by airport police and Transportation Security Administration personnel at the Memphis Airport. Shirley Cohen said she was returning to Chattanooga after taking her 19-year-old daughter to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for treatment. The lawsuit filed in Memphis says the daughter ... (click for more)

A Disturbing Trend At Exit 11 - And Response (6)

So, am I the first to notice a trend?   How many wrecks does exit 11 need before anyone asks "whats up with that?"  I have lost count of the wrecks that continue to happen, even after last year's awful loss of life (which I believe 51 percent of the blame should fall on the THP officer on duty).  The problem with this section of interstate are sight lines ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Garden This July

I can never remember a day in July when my garden, my lawn, my dogwood tree, and my ferns are all wilting for lack of rain. Right now we are more than eight inches under our average rainfall for the first six months and, on this wonderful weekend, those who love firecrackers are urged to keep a pail of water in case a spark could cause a fire. On the other hand, every July 4 th ... (click for more)