Alexander: Congress Passing Extension of Ban on Restricted Areas Below Dams Is a "Victory for Tennessee Fishermen"

Following signature by the president, Alexander says legislation will continue permanent ban on physical barriers and delegation of enforcement to state wildlife agencies

Posted on May 22, 2014

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“We don’t need Big Brother holding the hands of fishermen in Tennessee and Kentucky, and passage of this legislation is a victory for generations who have enjoyed the right to fish below publicly owned dams on the Cumberland River.”– Lamar Alexander 

WASHINGTON, May 22 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today announced Congress approved final passage of his legislation to extend from two years to four a ban restricting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from implementing “restricted areas” below dams on the Cumberland River. The legislation also keeps in place permanent provisions, already in federal law, that Alexander authored to stop what he calls “unreasonable restrictions” by the Corps.

The Senate passed the legislation as part of Water Resources Development Act by a vote of 91 to 7. The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the Water Resources Development Act by a vote of 412 to 4, and the legislation now heads to the president’s desk for signature.

The Water Resources Development Act extends a ban on the Corps creating “restricted areas” beneath the dams from two years to four years. It also keeps Alexander’s permanent ban on the use of physical barriers beneath the dams, and the delegation of enforcement of safety regulations to state wildlife agencies in Tennessee and Kentucky in place – both provisions that were part of his “Freedom to Fish” legislation that became law in June of 2013.

“We don’t need Big Brother holding the hands of fishermen in Tennessee and Kentucky, and passage of this legislation is a victory for generations who have enjoyed the right to fish below publicly owned dams on the Cumberland River,” Alexander said. “This legislation extends the ban on the Corps’ unreasonable plan to create restricted areas below these dams from two years to four years, and makes clear yet again that physical barriers and state enforcement of safety restrictions are the law of the land.”

Final passage of the Water Resources Development Act, which will become law after a signature by the president, is the result of successful conference negotiations between the House and Senate. Both the House and Senate previously passed their own versions of this legislation last year. This legislation follows passage into law of Alexander’s “Freedom to Fish Act,” which he introduced with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

Prior to the two year ban, the Corps proceeded with its plan to restrict access to these tailwaters, despite the Senate’s unanimous support for an amendment to its budget resolution last year, as well as repeated requests for compromise from Alexander, numerous other elected officials, and the state agencies that enforce boater safety requirements.

 

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