Corps Announces Restricted Areas Near Dams - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Corps Announces Restricted Areas Near Dams

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by Adam Ghassemi

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As the Cumberland snakes its way through Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky it isn't hard to find fishermen at popular spots near dams along the way.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says even with fisherman wearing life jackets, they've still had three deaths, a serious injury and ten rescues close to dams since 2009. That spike prompted them to look at federal policies and uncover they were allowing fishermen in boats to get too close.

"The tail waters directly below the dam are a high risk area and fishing in this area is a high risk activity," said Commander and District Engineer Lt. Col. James DeLapp. "We thought that met the intent of the regulation, but as we re-looked at it and discussed this with our headquarters we determined that we obviously weren't in full compliance with the regulation."

DeLapp says the Corps is creating "restricted areas" above and below ten dams throughout the Nashville District, including Old Hickory, Percy Priest and Center Hill.

The change only affects water access by boat, kayak or canoe and does not affect fishing from the river bank in the newly restricted areas.

It may only seem like a few hundred feet in each case, but state wildlife officials say every foot lost takes away precious access.

"I think the biggest thing we don't want to see as an agency is access lost. We don't want to lose access and we're asking them to reconsider taking away some access," Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency spokesman Doug Markham told NewsChannel 5 in November.

TWRA officials say they made compromises years ago for fishermen in boats to wear life jackets near dams. They say despite the deaths or injuries in recent years, there is a decent safety record when you consider how many people fish those waters every year.

The Corps plans to spend $2 million dollars in phases to put up new signs and buoys.

"The bottom line is we do have to get in compliance, which means we have to restrict the areas," DeLapp said.

The Corps is planning four different public meetings next month in Tennessee and Kentucky to explain the changes.


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