11/22/12 11:20 PM
All Sportsmen please read
Working Together As Sportsmen To Get Answers To Puzzling Corps Move To Prohibit Boats Below Dams|
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By Doug Markham
Outdoors With Doug Markham
The information posted at the bottom of this commentary is for those who want an answer to questions before a government plan to close boat access to our dams is implemented in Middle Tennessee.
As a long time fisherman, and one that immensely enjoys fishing below dams, I find the attempt by the the Corps of Engineers to restrict boat access below dams offensive and puzzling.
Bass anglers, trout anglers, sauger and walleye fishermen, striper and white bass lovers, and catfish fanatics have the most at stake if the Corps denies you access to generators and the accompanying eddies, seams, and swirls manufactured by them.
But deer hunters, turkey pursuers, small game enthusiasts and anyone who loves outdoors should hear the alarm ringing just as loudly over this issue being brought on itself solely by the Nashville District Corps of Engineers and the 61st commander to lead this government entity.
You may never have fished below a dam, you may not fish at all, but I'm betting many of you find just as offensive as I do an attempt to stop a tradition for apparently no greater reason than one man or a handful of COE administrators want to see it stopped regardless of what anyone else has to say about the issue.
More galling is that generally these top district COE commanders are short timers. Most are around for about two years before their next appointment sends them upwards in rank or position or onwards into retirement.
I'm not sure how much longer the current colonel has remaining in his Nashville tenure, but if he gets his way he can end a Tennessee tradition without having ever been elected to anything in this state by any of us! Our governor can't even do that.
And, he might even be able to do it without holding a public meeting to get input from thousands of anglers and numerous businesses, counties, or cities that count on angling dollars brought in by the attraction of dams. That is where we all should uniformly find offense.
How long have these plans been in the works? Was the COE just going to be put into place one day with COE rangers running us all below certain line of demarcation--a buoy or a ramp perhaps? Are we going to get citations, big fines, or taken downtown if try to fish where we have been fishing for decades?
Eddie West is a good reporter for the Carthage Courier newspaper in Smith County. He doesn't know much about fishing, but he knows enough that local Cordell Hull anglers will howl at an attempt by a un-elected government official to remove access to their fishing tradition. He asked the COE to send him a press release about the proposed boat restrictions and this is what he got via email:
"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District is currently in the process of finalizing a plan to restrict boat access to hazardous waters directly upstream and downstream of all hydroelectric power plant facilities along the Cumberland River and its tributaries. When the implementation plan is finalized, the Corps will release the information to the public."
Public Affairs Specialist
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
This statement was only sent this week and only at the request of Eddie West and not sent by the colonel, as you can see.
I appreciate Eddie for sending that quote. It says to me that when the Corps is ready to put our new plan in place they will let us know the day one of our longstanding traditions comes to an end. Until then, don't worry about it.
We all know about the potential hazards below dams, just as we know about the potential hazards of boats in general, treestands if you are hunter, and 16-year-old drivers sharing I-65 or I-24 if you're a driver.
It's puzzling to me that the first 60 commanders of the Nashville District Corps of Engineers have not made boat access an issue. For some reason the 61st wants to end our tradition here before he MOVES ON. This should alarm all sportsmen and all sportsmen should work together to stop this ASAP. Notice in the COE quote, it says "upstream and downstream" of our dams. How far upstream?
U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander has written the COE colonel a letter asking that he hold public meetings before any implementation takes place. Apparently it has galled him too and he is heavy hitter in the United States Senate.
That letter, along with one written by TWRA opposing any boat restrictions, is good and I appreciate the Senator and former governor of this state. But, I still believe it will take the cooperation and unity of all sportsmen to get this attempt stopped. By the way, you can read the TWRA letter on it Region II FB page.
What if--just what if--the next COE commander says too many people are drowning on Percy Priest or Old Hickory and that the COE needs to save lives because because boat motors have gotten too fast, or the wind might blow hard, or the water temperature is too cold if you fall out of the boat.
I know that sounds wacky, but until this commander came around I never thought about anyone trying to end our access to excellent fishing around the dams--trout below Center Hill Dam, sauger below Cheatham Dam, stripers below Cordell Hull Dam--you get the picture.
I hope you will share this commentary and the information below with all of your friends. I have attached the Corps Facebook page if you want to pay it a visit and ask questions. Please be cordial, but we deserve answers. I have also asked the colonel to be on my radio show. No response yet, but I asked him through the COE's Public Affairs Office a day before Thanksgiving. (Nashville District - Nashville, TN - Government Organization | Facebook)
Here are contact pages for two U.S. Senators and four U.S. Congressmen that have Cumberland River waters in their districts. If you are not sure what your congressional district is, just do a Google search for maps of Tennessee congressional districts.
Senator Lamar Alexander (statewide representation)
Senator Bob Corker (statewide representation)
Congressman Diane Black
Congressman Marsha Blackburn
Congressman Jim Cooper
Congressman Scott Desjarlais
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