The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Nashville District this week began to place buoys and signs that will restrict fishing and water activities close to Wolf Creek Dam and nine other Corps-operated dams on the Cumberland River and its tributaries.
Enforcement of these restrictions by Corps rangers and Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources personnel will keep fishermen, swimmers and waders 500 feet from Wolf Creek Dam in the tailwater and also 500 feet away on the upstream side of the dam.
Lee Roberts, public affairs specialist for the Corps, said there is no exact schedule for placing buoys and signs at individual dams. It could be late spring or summer before the restrictive areas are marked at all dams, he noted.
No physical barriers to the restricted areas will be installed at this time, Roberts said. “We’re going to see how the buoys and signs work,” he commented. The restrictions allegedly will have little or no effect on bank fishermen.
High ranking officials, including Sen. Mitch McConnell and Congressman Hal Rogers, have expressed opposition to the restrictions. However, the Corps has proceeded with plans to implement what it calls safety measures.
"This plan demonstrates a complete disregard for the people affected most directly by the policy and is yet another example of this administration forcing burdensome regulations on communities rather than working with them to ensure safety," McConnell said.
During an informational meeting January 24 at The Center for Rural Development, fishermen mingled among politicians and public officials, almost all expressing opposition to implementing no-access areas close to Wolf Creek Dam. Fishermen say the area near the dam is one of the top five fishing spots in Kentucky.
Lt. Col. James A. DeLapp, the Corps’ Nashville District engineer, said since 2009 there have been three fatalities, one serious injury and 10 near misses/rescues in hazardous waters downstream from Corps-operated dams. He said the Corps has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in out-of-court settlements for these mishaps.