Freedom To Fish Act Could Reopen Restricted Dams - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Freedom To Fish Act Could Reopen Restricted Dams

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by Adam Ghassemi

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A fight has been brewing ever since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced last fall it was installing buoys to keep people in boats away from the waters above and below dams along the Cumberland River.

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed the Freedom to Fish Act, which could force the Corps to reopen the areas for the next two years.

The House echoed that approval Tuesday. It won't become law unless signed by President Obama.

There is a similar bill to make the reversal permanent, but that legislation is still making its way though Congress.

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander proposed the legislation in February.

"The fact that we actually have to pass a law for the Corps to do something reasonable suggests to me that they're not listening to the people who are elected. Basically, we Tennesseans do not need the Corps of Engineers holding our hand while we fish," Alexander told NewsChannel 5 last week.

"It's a win for sportsmen. It's a win for citizens in Tennessee," said Doug Markham with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency who can't believe Congress moved so quickly. "They said they were going to help us. They went to Washington. They passed legislation. They did everything they said they were going to do."

The Nashville District Commander has said deaths near dams in recent years revealed they weren't in compliance with existing federal safety regulations.

Wednesday, a Corps spokesperson declined comment, saying the federal agency doesn't comment on pending legislation.

Buoys have already been installed at Center Hill, Cordell Hull, Percy Priest, Old Hickory and Dale Hollow Lakes in Tennessee as well as Martins Fork and Laurel River Lakes in Kentucky.

The entire project, which is still being deployed, cost an estimated $1.5 million. It is not clear how much of that has already been spent, or how much it will cost to remove them.

Markham said he hopes sportsmen, the TWRA and the Corps will be able to work together to move past this.


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