Commonwealth Journal

News Live

February 3, 2014

Leading lawmakers petitioning Corps to refill lake

As little as one fish could hold up progress

Washington, D.C. —

Four U.S Congressional leaders are spearheading the battle to prevent as little as a single endangered minnow from preventing the restoration of Lake Cumberland to normal pool level this summer.
U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul. and Congressmen Hal Rogers and Ed Whitfield, expressed their concerns in a joint letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Monday.
“We urge your agencies to immediately collaborate...in a manner that would allow for restoring the higher water levels on which the local community relies. It is critical that Lake Cumberland be able to raise water levels adequate to support tourism prior to the peak season in 2014. It is well past time for the lake to return to its full capacity,” the lawmakers wrote.
Despite the completion of $594 million to repairs to fix the leaky Wolf Creek Dam which impounds Lake Cumberland, the Corps recently announced that the discovery of as little as a single endangered Duskytail Darter in the lake waters would prevent the Corps from returning the lake level to normal pool elevation this summer.
Don Getty, a spokesperson for the Corps’ Nashville District which manages Lake Cumberland, yesterday told The Commonwealth Journal that since the Duskytail Darter is an endangered species, the “taking”—harming, capturing or killing—of a as little as a single minnow is enough to stop the Corps from allowing the lake to return to normal levels.
Getty also noted: “There is not an inkling of truth” to speculation circulating that the Corps may have raised the Duskytail Darter issue to draw attention away from potential problems with the dam’s integrity.
Getty explained that with the conclusion of rehabilitation of Wolf Creek Dam, a final environmental impact study was made.
“We were concerned we would find endangered mussels in the lake, but instead we found the Duskytail Darters,” Getty said.

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