Corps of Engineers Complying with Freedom to Fish Act on Cumberland River

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is complying with the Freedom to Fish Act--legislation signed by President Obama on June 3 that included a two-year moratorium on any attempt by the U.S. Corps of Engineers to block boating access above or below Cumberland River dams.

In a June 20 statement posted on Gary Garth's blog for the Courier Journal, the Corps states that it will revert back to conditions-based regulations in place before August 2012, and begin work on replacing buoys placed below and above Cumberland dams earlier this spring when the agency attempted to enforce a new, proposed restricted zone.

"The enforcement of a restricted area below dams on the Cumberland River and tributaries is now the sole responsibility of the State of Tennessee and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The Nashville District is working with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDF&W) to implement measures for alerting the public of hazardous water conditions and restricted areas."

The debate heated up earlier this year when it was reported that the Corps' Nashville District formally announced its decision to cut off boating access above and below 10 dams on the 688-mile long Cumberland, citing safety concerns. The restrictions would have cut off access to the best tailwater fishing on the river.

Legislature to permanently keep waters near the dam open to anglers, the Water Resources Development Act, is working its way through the bureaucratic process.

Photo: Center Hill Dam on the Cumberland River from Flickr