Washington, D.C. —
The U.S. Senate has passed a bill which contains an amendment by Senator Mitch McConnell that would stop the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from restricting access to fishing and water activities near Wolf Creek and Barkley dams.
McConnell's amendment was included within the Water Re-sources Develop-ment Act (WRDA), which passed the Senate yesterday.
Danielle Smoot, district communica-tions coordinator for Congressman Hal Rogers, said Mc-Connell’s amendment to WRDA will go to the U.S. House of Represen-tatives for consideration.
The Corps during the first week in May began to place buoys and signs that will restrict fishing and water activities 500 feet above and below Wolf Creek Dam and nine other Corps-operated dams on the Cumberland River and its tributaries.
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.
McConnell’s amendment would stop the Corps from installing physical barriers that would block fishing access to the tailwaters of these dams; would limit the Corps' ability to designate "restricted areas” to times when operation conditions create hazardous waters, rather than 24 hours a day; and give states the right to enforce public access to these areas.
"Many Kentuckians are struggling in this economy and the last thing they need is the nanny state shutting down a critical local resource. Many in our state have depended on these waters for years and it's outrageous for the federal government to make such a decision with complete disregard for the people affected most directly by the policy,” McConnell said.
He continued: “Blocking fishing access to the tailwaters of Lake Barkley and Wolf Creek will not only rob fishermen of a beloved pastime, it will also impair tourism in the area and negatively affect the Kentucky economy.”