A quartet of high-powered politicians converged at Barkley Dam on the lower Cumberland River in Lyon County, Ky., this morning.
Pictured left to right Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) headlined the Freedom to Fish Rally, where they had little new news to share but reiterated their opposition to the Corps of Engineers’ plan to prohibit boat access immediately below 10 dams on the Cumberland River system. The Corps’ Nashville District office has said physical barrier on some tailwaters could be in place by June.
I’ve reported on this for Field & Stream www.fieldandstream.com and The Courier-Journal www.courier-journal.com/outdoors. The basic issue is this: In December, siting public safety concerns and lack of full compliance with a 1996 regulation, the Nashville District Corps office unveiled a plan that would block boating access from 500 to 1,000 below the dam face on nine of 10 of the river’s dams.
The public outcry – especially from fishermen and those who profit from fishing dollars – was immediate and loud.
Soon the politicians became involved. The Corps has refused to budge. Whitfield responded with the Freedom to Fish Act. And he has some congressional big shots who have signed off on the bill and are paying close attention.
Today’s rally didn’t accomplish much on the surface. The speeches were brief and no one said anything the crowd has not already heard. But the glad handing was in full force and one important point was demonstrated: When public outcry is loud enough our elected leaders will respond.