The U.S. Senate passed a bill Wednesday to stop the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from restricting fishing access around Corps dams, specifically along the Cumberland River.
Sen. Mitch McConnell sponsored the bill.
The Corps of Engineers wants to install signage and a line of buoys separating fishermen from what they characterize “hazardous waters.” Legislators like McConnell felt the economic impact it would have on tourism outweighed any potential dangers.
The Army Corps of Engineers will hear public comment on pending Cumberland River dam restrictions Jan. 10, in Grand Rivers. The Corps announced earlier this month it would restrict all water access above and below 10 dams, including the one on Lake Barkley because it's a dangerous area.
Several barge companies that operate on the drought-stricken Mississippi River have asked Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear to call for a presidential disaster declaration. The companies, including three based in Paducah, say doing so could be a first step in getting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release water from the Missouri River to improve the Mississippi’s flow. Crounse Corporation, James Marine, Ingram Barge, Marquette Transportation, and AEP River Operations made the appeal in a letter sent late last week.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is planning a series of public meeting in January to solicit opinions on restricting access in hazardous waters immediately upstream and downstream of all Corps-owned locks and dams in Kentucky and Tennessee. Dates for the meetings have not been set.