Today's meeting at Barkley Dam drew what was called a historic meeting of three U.S. Senators and a U.S. Representative in a effort to halt the construction of barricades that would restrict water access to fishermen both above and below Barkley Dam and nine other dams maintained by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers on the Cumberland River. In the photo from left to right are Ky. Sen. Mitch McConnell, Rep. Ed Whitfield, Ky. Sen. Rand Paul and Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander.

Barricade backlash draws federal delegation Saturday

(Filed April 13, 2013) LAKE CITY-    A historic meeting of three U.S. Senators and a U.S. Representative buoyed the efforts of Lyon County Judge Wade White and Livingston County Judge Chris Lasher to stop a plan by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to erect barricade below all 10 of their dams along the Cumberland River including Barkley Dam at Lake City. The delegation of federal officials at the meeting held at 11:00 a.m. at the picnic pavilion below the dam included Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, Kentucky’s senior senator and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky’s junior Senator Rand Paul and U.S. Representative Ed Whitfield who represents Kentucky’s First Congressional District.

Judge Chris Lasher made the opening remarks and then immediately announced the authorization of Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear for Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway to file suit in federal court to stop the Corps from proceeding with the plans to erect barricades on two dams in Kentucky. He explained the Freedom to Fish Act was approved in the U.S. Senate but the lawsuit could stop the Corps from proceeding with the plan to barricade the dams now.

Judge Wade White said that Lyon County had given up much for development of Lake Barkley including both Old Eddyville and Old Kuttawa most of which were inundated by Lake Barkley. White said they (Lyon County) wasn’t going to give up another foot to the federal government.

Judge White introduced Rep. Ed Whitfield who detailed many meeting and telephone calls with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and his battle with them to get information they used to both overturn decades of policy that both encouraged joint management of Corp facilities with local officials and rejected exclusion of fishermen and other from waters above and below Corp dams through the use of barricades.

Whitfield introduced Sen. McConnell who described the Corp’s policy as being part of the “Nanny State”. He also pointed out Tennessee Valley Authority that manages larger dams along the larger Tennessee River had no plans to restrict access to waters around their facilities.

Sen. McConnell introduced Sen. Rand Paul who told the crowd the situation was a clear example of when regulations were best set by local authorities not the federal government. Sen. Paul also introduced Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander who praised Judge White and Judge Lasher for their efforts to get the barricade project stopped.
Sen. Alexander said there were just two Corp dams in Kentucky but there were eight in Tennessee. He noted there were 900,000 people in Tennessee who had purchase hunting and fishing licenses and the move by the Corp was so unpopular he thought everyone one of them had written him a letter opposing the barricades.

In addition to the fishermen both wildlife agencies in Kentucky and Tennessee have gone on record in opposition to the barricades. The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife agency has contacted to Corp and offered to use its resources to work out a safety plan for the Kentucky waters above both Corp dams in Kentucky. The Corp did not consider that proposal apparently.

All of the Federal delegation assured the crowd they were working on several opportunities to prevent the installations of the barricades and the Senate had adopted legislation to halt it. Both houses need to adopt similar legislation to halt the program and Rep. Whitfield said legislation was moving for introduction in the house to halt the project as well.

A federal injunction would stall or stop the project immediately and that is apparently the hope of the opposition to the barricades at the present.