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Fishermen Keep Off: Boating Restrictions Planned For Cumberland River Dams

A diagram of the proposed restrictions for J. Percy Priest dam provided by the Army Corps of Engineers. Click here to see similiar images for each dam on the Cumberland River system.

Despite of loud chorus of opposition from politicians, fishermen, fishery officials, civic leaders and business people the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Nashville District is moving forward with a plan to restrict boating access below 10 dams on the Cumberland River system in Tennessee and Kentucky.

Anglers in the two states who fish for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white bass, hybrid striped bass, catfish, trout, and nearly any panfish or rough fish you’d care to name will soon find some of their most productive waters off limits if the Corps proceeds with its plan.

Nashville District commander Lt. Col. James DeLapp unveiled the plan in December to near universal disapproval. Citing safety reasons, specifically drowning prevention, and what DeLapp said was “lack of full compliance” with Corps regulation ER 1130-2-520 chapter 10, which has been in place since 1996, he said his office plans to restrict boat access above and below Cheatham, J. Percy Priest, Old Hickory, Cordell Hull, Center Hill and Dale Hollow dams in Tennessee and Barkley, Wolf Creek, Laurel River and Martins Fork dams in Kentucky.

DeLapp said physical barriers will be used to restrict access at some facilities along with the placement of additional signage. He plans to have the new restrictive barriers in place by June at an estimated cost of $2.6 million. The off limits areas will range from 500 to 1,000 feet downstream from the dam at nine of 10 facilities. One of the headwater dams will have a 125-foot tailwater no boat zone.

The Cumberland River rises in Eastern Kentucky thens winds through middle Tennessee before turning north through western Kentucky to its confluence with the Ohio River. The tailwaters directly below the dams provide some of the richest and most productive fishing waters in the river; the Corps plan blocks fishermen from reaching much of these areas.


A sign on the Barkley Dam warning boaters of possible turbulence. Most anglers agree better signage on the dams in the river system is needed.

Fishermen and fishery officials - including Ed Carter, chief of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) and Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) director of fisheries Ron Brooks – along with political leaders at the local, state and national level agree that during periods of high flow tailwaters are dangerous and should be off limits but at other times the waters should remain open. Carter and Brooks said they have repeatedly sought a compromise with the Corps, with whom both agencies usually enjoy a good working relationship.

Over this issue, however, they are at loggerheads.

“Our department works with the Corps on a lot of different things but we have to disagree with them on this,” Brooks said. “We are against it. I think we can make adjustments for what the Corps wants to do and still allow people to fish when conditions are conductive for it.”

If the restrictions are put in place enforcement will apparently fall to the respective state wildlife agencies, a responsibility Carter said, “will not be something the TWRA can enforce.”

The Corps has not been moved.

“The policy is the policy,” DeLapp said. “If the policy changes then that’s something else. We will follow the process, 100 percent.”

Capt. Jim Doom, owner of Between the Rivers Guide Service in Grand Rivers, Kentucky, has been a full-time guide for six years and said he fishes about 200 days a year. He does about 75 percent of that fishing in the tailwater areas that would be off limits if the Corps plan proceeds.

"It would be very detrimental to my business. It would shut down the type of fishing [hybrid striped bass] that I do. But not just my business would be hurt, but the motels and restaurants and a lot of businesses that depend on fishermen, fishing, and tourism," said Doom, adding that, in his opinion, tailwater conditions are dangerous about 20 to 30 days in a bad year. "They say this is about safety. One death is too many. But the Corps has an excellent safety record. In my opinion, safety is not an issue in this matter. There are very few fishermen who try to go [near the dam] when the flood gates are open."

Doom was primarily concerned with the impacts of the currently proposed plan, but wonders if it will all end there.

"And where is the Corps going to stop? If this is a safety issue, there are far more deaths on the lake than in the tailwater," Doom said. "If the Corps does this here, in my opinion, they are going to follow suit at other Corps dams. And the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority/Tennessee River) will follow the Corps on Engineers and do this on their dams."


Below the J. Percy Priest Dam on the Cumberland River near Nashville, Tennessee during a period of low water release.

A Strict and Unpopular Interpretation of the Law

Chapter 10 of regulation ER 1130-2-520 states that it is Corps policy that restricted areas prohibiting public access shall be established for hazardous waters upstream and downstream from all Corps-owned locks and dams.

Sub section 10-2 (2)c states that the restricted area boundaries shall “ordinarily” be established based on high flow conditions.

DeLapp described regulation ER 1130-2-520 as a “national policy” and said his is the only district office not in full compliance. But the interpretation of the rule apparently varies by district, which seems reasonable because all waterways are different and are managed for specific uses and user groups. DeLapp has said the decision regarding how and where to set restrictive boundaries on the Cumberland system was made at the district office and not handed down to him by superiors.

Click here to read the entire Corps regulation.

Since the Nashville District was not altering existing or creating new rules or regulations, a period of public comment was not required. As details about the plan leaked, public outrage spiked, fueled by scant information released by the Corps. The Nashville office responded by holding four informational public meetings to explain how, why, and what it intended to do.

At the initial meeting in January in Grand River, KY, Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) said he disapproved of the plan and would do what he could to stop it. Following several meetings with Corps officials in Nashville and Washington, Whitfield last month filed the Freedom to Fish Act, a House bill that would prohibit the Corps from prohibiting public access downstream for any dam it controls.

“I am fed up with the Corps’ lack of public consideration in their process to prohibit access to tailwaters near dams on the Cumberland River,” Whitfield said as part of the bill’s introduction. “I’m also frustrated that the Corps in numerous meetings at all levels has placated the public rather than attempting to work with us to reach a compromise. This has left me with no other choice than to seek a legislative solution to the Corps’ overreach.”

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has also introduced legislation to halt the Corps plan to block boating access immediately below dams on the Cumberland system.

A call to the Nashville District seeking comment to the federal legislative action poised against it resulted in the following e-mail response:

“The Nashville District continues to be committed to providing for the public safety while coming into compliance with ER 1130-2-520 and statutory requirements of 33 C.F.R. Implementation planning for the restrictions is continuing.

“As to the proposed legislation by members of Congress, the Corps cannot comment on pending or proposed legislation.”


A boater below the Barkley Dam, the largest in the river system. Under the Army Corps of Engineers plan, this water would be off limits to boaters.

Drowning, Liability, Lawsuits

During the four, two-hour-long informational public meetings, during which DeLapp explained the Corps’ plan and answered questions, he repeatedly addressed public safety concerns.

“Safety is the Corps’ number one priority,” he said.

While everyone agrees that one death is one too many, the Nashville District has an excellent safety record on tailwaters on the Cumberland system. There have been 14 known drowning deaths since 1970. Nine of those victims were from boating accidents. Five drowning deaths involved people on shore who fell into the water. Under the current plan, bank fishing would be allowed inside the no-boat zone.

Currently tailwater boaters are generally allowed within 150 feet of the dam and/or the lock wall. But when a boat is within the immediate vicinity of the dam—generally from the launch ramp upstream to the structure—everyone on board is required to wear a life jacket. Since 2009 there have been three reported tailwater drownings on the Cumberland system. All three victims were wearing a life jacket.

“The life jackets do not provide protection in these areas and these conditions,” DeLapp said.

During the same time frame the Corps has been involved in at least one drowning related liability claim. DeLapp declined to comment specifically on potential liability issues, but did say, “[Lawsuits] are a growing trend today.”

Paul Rister, KDFWR district fisheries biologist, whose management area includes Barkley Dam, the largest and last dam on the system, says 90 percent of fish are caught within 1,000 feet of the dam.

“If they block all boating access from the dam to the end of the lock wall (about 700 feet) like they’re talking about, then a lot of productive fishing water will be off limits,” Rister said.

For diagrams of the planned boating restrictions for all dams on the Cumberland system in Tennesee and Kentucky, click here.

Comments (7)

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from Ernest Norsworthy wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Well, this puts Sen. Lamar Alexander in somewhat of a quandary. While he is for the anglers along the Cumberland River in this case, he does not support the Lakeshore Alliance group of property owners and leaseholders around the TVA lakes.

For purely political reasons, Sen. Alexander threatens congressional action on a specific Corps of Engineers rule that would permit anglers closer to the sometimes-rough waters around dams controlled by the Corps. The Corps for safety reasons proposes changes in the present rule that would further restrict boating.

The Corps claims it is a “national policy” for the safety of the public and the Nashville District commander Lt. Col. James DeLapp says theirs is the only District not in compliance. He is not counting the TVA because it is not either, if it in fact it is the national policy.

It just seems appropriate for Sen. Alexander and Congr. Whitfield to be just as enthusiastic about the TVA lake shore concerns as they are about the Corps policy on the Cumberand.

Ernest Norsworthy
Omaha, Nebraska

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from Eric Nelson wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

The safety issue is a smoke screen. Over 800 drownings have occurred above the dams the corp manages in the same timeframe. The policy argument is a best deceptive, for the policy has been interpreted differently by EVERY single Corp commander until Delapp came along. His position infers that the long string of noble officers who preceded him lacked the capacity in interpret the regulation. Additionally of the three drowning victims in 42 years who were recovered with a life jacket only one of the three had it on properly. Creating a restricted zone and erecting a physical barrier are two separate issues. Creating a physical barrier also prevents water search and rescue from saving corp employees or bank fishermen who fall in. The fact that LtCol Delapp hasn't been disciplined by his superiors indicates that something bigger is afoot. If the senators and congressmen don't stop this irrational plan to barricade the waters, then we know that We the People have truly lost, whether you fish or OT.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Eric Nelson wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Mid 20th-century to present: The Nashville District Corps of Engineers constructs 10 dams along the Cumberland River system and its smaller tributaries in Tennessee and Kentucky. It allows boat access immediately above and below dams on conditioned based flows, which are primarily determined by the amount of rainfall that sometimes creates hazardous boating conditions. For decades, anglers enjoy the benefits of fishing near dams, state wildlife and fish agencies stock the Cumberland River system with popular riverine fish, and the economy of local businesses benefit from millions of sportsmen’s dollars as the popularity of this unique fishery grows.

1995: The issue of safety around Nashville District dams becomes a point of discussion. Major General Albert Genetti in the Corps' Ohio headquarters approves recommendations made by the Corps' Nashville District to keep tailwaters accessible to boaters, except during extremely hazardous conditions. The general also requests that the Nashville District Commander David Norwood “consider defining restricted areas in such a manner that maintains public safety while providing more access than those proposed in your study…”

1996: The Corps issues Regulation ER 1130-2-520. This is the regulation that LTC James DeLapp will say in 2012 forces his hand to bring the Nashville District into compliance with other Corps projects across the nation. However, in 1996, LTC. David Norwood is still serving as the Nashville District commander and there appears to be no written communications that ER 1130-2-520 had the intent of dismantling existing access by boat around these dams. Seventeen years and numerous Nashville District commanders come and go before anyone claims the Nashville District is not complying with the 1996 regulation.

Winter 2010: three drownings within 2 years prompt The Nashville District Corps to form an interdisciplinary team (as is required by Corps policy when considering changes to existing operational management plans) to discuss recent deaths and if any changes should take place below and above these 10 dams. Over the course of a few months the team does their work.

March 2011: The Nashville District Corps invites The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife to attend a meeting to discuss 4 options concerning dam safety. Among the options are the possibility of permanent barricades and an option for continued access with more safety education and warning signs. Both state agencies agree that “Option 2” is the best option, which is to keep boat access open and concentrate on more safety education and physical warnings.

June 11, 2011: A memo written by the Nashville District Corps' Chief of Operations stating the Nashville District Commander Anthony Mitchell agrees with the interdisciplinary team recommendation for Option 2 - keeping access open for boats.

June 24, 2011: LTC James DeLapp becomes 62nd commander of the Corps' Nashville District and, by his own admission during recent pubic meetings, begins planning to permanently restrict boat access below 10 Nashville District dams. Despite the decision just made. The commander, however, does not make his intentions public.

Jan, 2012: LTC James Delapp, after learning of two lawsuits - one which settled, asks for a review of the 2010, Team findings and is shown a powerpoint presentation. No new drownings have occurred since 2010, to prompt a new look at present operations.

Spring/Summer 2012: Apparently, LTC DeLapp uses this time to make a case that life jackets do not work below dams, that safety is a problem, that compliance of regulation ER 1130-2-520 is not being followed and liability/lawsuits are a problem. But does not make his plans to barricade public.

August 2012: He receives a "decision paper" outlining the findings of the 2010 team and some guidance he had requested if he makes changes to the recommendation of the team.

November 2012: Retired Corps Resource Manager Mike Patterson finds out about LTC James DeLapp’s plans and contacts U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander in an effort to gain intervention. Patterson notes the infrequency of accidents below Cheatham Dam during his long tenure as a resource manager of Cheatham Lake. Senator Lamar Alexander meets with LTC DeLapp and asks him to hold a series of public meetings.

Late November 2012: Corps Nashville District Commander LTC James DeLapp announces permanent restrictions will be in place beginning Feb. 2013, even though no Corps interdisciplinary team has made recommendations for restrictions—as required by Corps policy—and without meeting with local government agencies and state agencies.

January 17, 2013: Through a Freedom of Information request by Wade White, Lyon County Judge and a separate one by Doug Markham, TWRA, this was discovered regarding the 14 drownings reported by the Nashville District:
Not a single drowning has been reported since 1970 during non-spill times at any of the 10 dams, despite millions of visitors.
Six dams on the barricade list have reported 0 drownings. Since 1970 -
- 5 Drownings from bank fishing (which will still be allowed)
- 2​Drowning from “unknown” causes
- 3​Drownings occurred when water discharged without warning, and no PFD worn
- 3​No PFD worn or PFD worn improperly, and water spilling
1 Victim was wearing a PFD but was too close to gate during spilling
Compared to 206 drownings since 1998 on the lakes and 16 on the beaches in this same district.

January/February 2013: The Nashville District Corps holds four public meetings and LTC DeLapp gives a presentation at each in which he explains where permanent restrictions will take place at an estimated cost of $2.6 million. Despite overwhelming opposition at every meeting, requests for alternative plans from executives of the TWRA and KDFWR, opposition from KY county judge/executives and requests by Tennessee and Kentucky US. Senators and Representatives for more information, LTC DeLapp moves forward with restriction plans.

January 2013: LTC James Delapp orders a second formation of a Corps interdisciplinary team. Those who oppose permanent boat restrictions believe this new team is designed to make recommendations for permanent restrictions.

February 5, 2013: Lyon and Livingston County Executives Wade White and Chris Lasher meet with General Michael Walsh, head of civil engineering for the Corps of Engineers in Washington, D.C. Also at that meeting is Senator Alexander and Congressman Whitfield. However, he does not move to any action. Less than two days after the Washington meeting, LTC DeLapp sends a memo to Nashville District employees informing them that restriction plans have approval throughout the Corps chain of command. He also warns employees against sharing their thoughts with the public, citing loyalty to the Corps as necessary.

Feb 21. 2013: U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander holds a press conference at Old Hickory Dam in Nashville to tell sportsmen that he will file legislation if needed in an attempt to halt the Corps barricade plans. He also says, as the ranking member of the appropriations committee that oversees the Corps’ budget, that he will consider a maneuver to halt the purchase of barricades through his committee.

Feb. 26, 2013: Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield files the Freedom To Fish Act (HB 826) banning the Nashville District Corps of Engineers "from taking any action to establish a restricted area prohibiting public access to waters downstream of dams…"

February 28, 2013: Senator Alexander files companion legislation to Congressman Whitfield (SB 421). Cosponsors include U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, and U.S Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

February 26, 2013: Opponents of the boat restrictions create the Freedom To Fish Act Facebook page.

March 1, 2013: It is discovered that the 2.6 million to pay for purchase and install of barricades will be pulled from existing budgeted items at each dam. Cut backs in hiring personnel and cut backs on recreational services and repairs at campground, picnic areas and other projects must be made to pay for the barricades/restrictions. The Corps will not release specific items they have cut but these cuts may reduce even further our enjoyment of these areas and tourism.

March 4, 2013: Senator Alexander and Congressman Whitfield meet with Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo Ellen Darcy and request she intervene in this issue. Secretary Darcy oversees the Corps of Engineers. She tells the senator and congressman that she will have an answer for them soon.

March 4, 2013: Senator Alexander sends Assistant Secretary of the Army Darcy a letter requesting LTC DeLapp stop seeking bids for items needed to barricade Nashville District tailwaters, noting in his letter the legislation is pending and that the military is undergoing sequestration and the possibility of severe funding cuts.

March 7, 2013: Lyon County Judge/Executive Wade White receives information requested in a FOIA Request that verifies the Corps of Engineers Nashville District in 2010, set up an interdisciplinary team, per Corps policy, regarding 3 recent drowning in 2009/10. The team investigated the tailwaters and in mid 2011, recommended to keep waters below our dams open to boating access and invest in more signs and education to public. The Nashville District Commander LTC Mitchell agreed to keep this open. The information also reveals LTC Delapp has decided to unilaterally make the decision to barricade without following Corps policy. Also, discovered Homeland Security expects costs to be more in maintaining the barricades than the cost to purchase and install.

March 11, 2013: Everyone is awaiting an answer from Secretary Darcy.

March 12, 2013: In an earlier Freedom of Information Act request we found no mention of the Corps being out of compliance with regulation ER 1130-2-520. Wade White, Lyon Co. Judge has sent another FOIA request to gain all documentation regarding the new finding that the Corps is not in full compliance by allowing access to the tailwaters.

March 13, 2013: The Corps continues the march toward restricting access despite the wait to hear from Asst Sec. Darcy. A recent understanding from the Corps is the schedule to start installing restricted area buoys upstream and downstream of the dams is moving forward. This is not the barricade yet, but standard coast guard restricted area buoys. After the buoys are installed anyone who boats between the buoys and the dam - will be considered restricted and anyone entering the area will be considered trespassing. Cheatham Dam may be complete by June 1st. Most of the supplies to do this, with the exception of the support steel for the signs, have already been purchased.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Eric Nelson wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

The timeline above constructed by freedom to fish.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from blue ridge wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Can you say HOMELAND SECURITY !

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from action1250 wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

I don't fish there but seems to me that the good tax payers (which PAY for the Corp) are getting the annul shaft!
Bend over guys! It's going to get worse.
If they can't get your guns they will try to take away your ability to CATCH AND EAT fish from the waters which we pay for!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dighunter wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

This seems like more of the Agenda 21 crap. Limiting US from using OUR natural resources. More government control!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from blue ridge wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Can you say HOMELAND SECURITY !

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Eric Nelson wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

The safety issue is a smoke screen. Over 800 drownings have occurred above the dams the corp manages in the same timeframe. The policy argument is a best deceptive, for the policy has been interpreted differently by EVERY single Corp commander until Delapp came along. His position infers that the long string of noble officers who preceded him lacked the capacity in interpret the regulation. Additionally of the three drowning victims in 42 years who were recovered with a life jacket only one of the three had it on properly. Creating a restricted zone and erecting a physical barrier are two separate issues. Creating a physical barrier also prevents water search and rescue from saving corp employees or bank fishermen who fall in. The fact that LtCol Delapp hasn't been disciplined by his superiors indicates that something bigger is afoot. If the senators and congressmen don't stop this irrational plan to barricade the waters, then we know that We the People have truly lost, whether you fish or OT.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Eric Nelson wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Mid 20th-century to present: The Nashville District Corps of Engineers constructs 10 dams along the Cumberland River system and its smaller tributaries in Tennessee and Kentucky. It allows boat access immediately above and below dams on conditioned based flows, which are primarily determined by the amount of rainfall that sometimes creates hazardous boating conditions. For decades, anglers enjoy the benefits of fishing near dams, state wildlife and fish agencies stock the Cumberland River system with popular riverine fish, and the economy of local businesses benefit from millions of sportsmen’s dollars as the popularity of this unique fishery grows.

1995: The issue of safety around Nashville District dams becomes a point of discussion. Major General Albert Genetti in the Corps' Ohio headquarters approves recommendations made by the Corps' Nashville District to keep tailwaters accessible to boaters, except during extremely hazardous conditions. The general also requests that the Nashville District Commander David Norwood “consider defining restricted areas in such a manner that maintains public safety while providing more access than those proposed in your study…”

1996: The Corps issues Regulation ER 1130-2-520. This is the regulation that LTC James DeLapp will say in 2012 forces his hand to bring the Nashville District into compliance with other Corps projects across the nation. However, in 1996, LTC. David Norwood is still serving as the Nashville District commander and there appears to be no written communications that ER 1130-2-520 had the intent of dismantling existing access by boat around these dams. Seventeen years and numerous Nashville District commanders come and go before anyone claims the Nashville District is not complying with the 1996 regulation.

Winter 2010: three drownings within 2 years prompt The Nashville District Corps to form an interdisciplinary team (as is required by Corps policy when considering changes to existing operational management plans) to discuss recent deaths and if any changes should take place below and above these 10 dams. Over the course of a few months the team does their work.

March 2011: The Nashville District Corps invites The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife to attend a meeting to discuss 4 options concerning dam safety. Among the options are the possibility of permanent barricades and an option for continued access with more safety education and warning signs. Both state agencies agree that “Option 2” is the best option, which is to keep boat access open and concentrate on more safety education and physical warnings.

June 11, 2011: A memo written by the Nashville District Corps' Chief of Operations stating the Nashville District Commander Anthony Mitchell agrees with the interdisciplinary team recommendation for Option 2 - keeping access open for boats.

June 24, 2011: LTC James DeLapp becomes 62nd commander of the Corps' Nashville District and, by his own admission during recent pubic meetings, begins planning to permanently restrict boat access below 10 Nashville District dams. Despite the decision just made. The commander, however, does not make his intentions public.

Jan, 2012: LTC James Delapp, after learning of two lawsuits - one which settled, asks for a review of the 2010, Team findings and is shown a powerpoint presentation. No new drownings have occurred since 2010, to prompt a new look at present operations.

Spring/Summer 2012: Apparently, LTC DeLapp uses this time to make a case that life jackets do not work below dams, that safety is a problem, that compliance of regulation ER 1130-2-520 is not being followed and liability/lawsuits are a problem. But does not make his plans to barricade public.

August 2012: He receives a "decision paper" outlining the findings of the 2010 team and some guidance he had requested if he makes changes to the recommendation of the team.

November 2012: Retired Corps Resource Manager Mike Patterson finds out about LTC James DeLapp’s plans and contacts U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander in an effort to gain intervention. Patterson notes the infrequency of accidents below Cheatham Dam during his long tenure as a resource manager of Cheatham Lake. Senator Lamar Alexander meets with LTC DeLapp and asks him to hold a series of public meetings.

Late November 2012: Corps Nashville District Commander LTC James DeLapp announces permanent restrictions will be in place beginning Feb. 2013, even though no Corps interdisciplinary team has made recommendations for restrictions—as required by Corps policy—and without meeting with local government agencies and state agencies.

January 17, 2013: Through a Freedom of Information request by Wade White, Lyon County Judge and a separate one by Doug Markham, TWRA, this was discovered regarding the 14 drownings reported by the Nashville District:
Not a single drowning has been reported since 1970 during non-spill times at any of the 10 dams, despite millions of visitors.
Six dams on the barricade list have reported 0 drownings. Since 1970 -
- 5 Drownings from bank fishing (which will still be allowed)
- 2​Drowning from “unknown” causes
- 3​Drownings occurred when water discharged without warning, and no PFD worn
- 3​No PFD worn or PFD worn improperly, and water spilling
1 Victim was wearing a PFD but was too close to gate during spilling
Compared to 206 drownings since 1998 on the lakes and 16 on the beaches in this same district.

January/February 2013: The Nashville District Corps holds four public meetings and LTC DeLapp gives a presentation at each in which he explains where permanent restrictions will take place at an estimated cost of $2.6 million. Despite overwhelming opposition at every meeting, requests for alternative plans from executives of the TWRA and KDFWR, opposition from KY county judge/executives and requests by Tennessee and Kentucky US. Senators and Representatives for more information, LTC DeLapp moves forward with restriction plans.

January 2013: LTC James Delapp orders a second formation of a Corps interdisciplinary team. Those who oppose permanent boat restrictions believe this new team is designed to make recommendations for permanent restrictions.

February 5, 2013: Lyon and Livingston County Executives Wade White and Chris Lasher meet with General Michael Walsh, head of civil engineering for the Corps of Engineers in Washington, D.C. Also at that meeting is Senator Alexander and Congressman Whitfield. However, he does not move to any action. Less than two days after the Washington meeting, LTC DeLapp sends a memo to Nashville District employees informing them that restriction plans have approval throughout the Corps chain of command. He also warns employees against sharing their thoughts with the public, citing loyalty to the Corps as necessary.

Feb 21. 2013: U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander holds a press conference at Old Hickory Dam in Nashville to tell sportsmen that he will file legislation if needed in an attempt to halt the Corps barricade plans. He also says, as the ranking member of the appropriations committee that oversees the Corps’ budget, that he will consider a maneuver to halt the purchase of barricades through his committee.

Feb. 26, 2013: Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield files the Freedom To Fish Act (HB 826) banning the Nashville District Corps of Engineers "from taking any action to establish a restricted area prohibiting public access to waters downstream of dams…"

February 28, 2013: Senator Alexander files companion legislation to Congressman Whitfield (SB 421). Cosponsors include U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, and U.S Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

February 26, 2013: Opponents of the boat restrictions create the Freedom To Fish Act Facebook page.

March 1, 2013: It is discovered that the 2.6 million to pay for purchase and install of barricades will be pulled from existing budgeted items at each dam. Cut backs in hiring personnel and cut backs on recreational services and repairs at campground, picnic areas and other projects must be made to pay for the barricades/restrictions. The Corps will not release specific items they have cut but these cuts may reduce even further our enjoyment of these areas and tourism.

March 4, 2013: Senator Alexander and Congressman Whitfield meet with Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo Ellen Darcy and request she intervene in this issue. Secretary Darcy oversees the Corps of Engineers. She tells the senator and congressman that she will have an answer for them soon.

March 4, 2013: Senator Alexander sends Assistant Secretary of the Army Darcy a letter requesting LTC DeLapp stop seeking bids for items needed to barricade Nashville District tailwaters, noting in his letter the legislation is pending and that the military is undergoing sequestration and the possibility of severe funding cuts.

March 7, 2013: Lyon County Judge/Executive Wade White receives information requested in a FOIA Request that verifies the Corps of Engineers Nashville District in 2010, set up an interdisciplinary team, per Corps policy, regarding 3 recent drowning in 2009/10. The team investigated the tailwaters and in mid 2011, recommended to keep waters below our dams open to boating access and invest in more signs and education to public. The Nashville District Commander LTC Mitchell agreed to keep this open. The information also reveals LTC Delapp has decided to unilaterally make the decision to barricade without following Corps policy. Also, discovered Homeland Security expects costs to be more in maintaining the barricades than the cost to purchase and install.

March 11, 2013: Everyone is awaiting an answer from Secretary Darcy.

March 12, 2013: In an earlier Freedom of Information Act request we found no mention of the Corps being out of compliance with regulation ER 1130-2-520. Wade White, Lyon Co. Judge has sent another FOIA request to gain all documentation regarding the new finding that the Corps is not in full compliance by allowing access to the tailwaters.

March 13, 2013: The Corps continues the march toward restricting access despite the wait to hear from Asst Sec. Darcy. A recent understanding from the Corps is the schedule to start installing restricted area buoys upstream and downstream of the dams is moving forward. This is not the barricade yet, but standard coast guard restricted area buoys. After the buoys are installed anyone who boats between the buoys and the dam - will be considered restricted and anyone entering the area will be considered trespassing. Cheatham Dam may be complete by June 1st. Most of the supplies to do this, with the exception of the support steel for the signs, have already been purchased.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Eric Nelson wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

The timeline above constructed by freedom to fish.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from action1250 wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

I don't fish there but seems to me that the good tax payers (which PAY for the Corp) are getting the annul shaft!
Bend over guys! It's going to get worse.
If they can't get your guns they will try to take away your ability to CATCH AND EAT fish from the waters which we pay for!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ernest Norsworthy wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Well, this puts Sen. Lamar Alexander in somewhat of a quandary. While he is for the anglers along the Cumberland River in this case, he does not support the Lakeshore Alliance group of property owners and leaseholders around the TVA lakes.

For purely political reasons, Sen. Alexander threatens congressional action on a specific Corps of Engineers rule that would permit anglers closer to the sometimes-rough waters around dams controlled by the Corps. The Corps for safety reasons proposes changes in the present rule that would further restrict boating.

The Corps claims it is a “national policy” for the safety of the public and the Nashville District commander Lt. Col. James DeLapp says theirs is the only District not in compliance. He is not counting the TVA because it is not either, if it in fact it is the national policy.

It just seems appropriate for Sen. Alexander and Congr. Whitfield to be just as enthusiastic about the TVA lake shore concerns as they are about the Corps policy on the Cumberand.

Ernest Norsworthy
Omaha, Nebraska

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from dighunter wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

This seems like more of the Agenda 21 crap. Limiting US from using OUR natural resources. More government control!

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