Public gets chance to weigh in on Barkley Dam access prohibitions

Grand Rivers- A meeting will be held in Grand Rivers at the Badgett Playhouse Theater, located at 1838 J.H. O’Bryan Avenue on January 10, 2013 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. to allow public response to the US Army Corps of Engineers decision to install signs, buoys and physical barriers both above and below 10 dams it operates on the Cumberland River including Barkley Dam. The Corp is implementing existing regulations that prohibit all forms of water access within the restricted areas above and below the dams, four of which are in Kentucky and six are in Tennessee.

According to information released by the Corp there have been three fatalities, one serious injury and 10 rescue situations in hazardous waters immediately downstream of dams on the Cumberland River and its adjoining tributaries. They also say lifejacket wear has been infective because in each of the fatalities the victims were wearing life jackets.

In information post on its website the Corp says, “Turbulent boils and powerful currents are capable of swamping, capsizing, and even trapping boats and people in turbulent waters. Also during instances of emergency boater distress, project employees are not always immediately available to respond.  This places emergency responders and other boaters at risk of a life-threatening situation during rescue attempts.”

Opposition to the prohibition to access to the waters nearest Barkly Dam comes from local fishermen and the local tourism industry. The waters nearest Barkley Dam are fishing hotspots that draw fishermen back to fish there again and again. While bank fishing in the prohibited areas would be allowed fishermen in boats would have to stay far away from what the Corp terms industrial areas around the dams.

For more information about the US Army Corp’s decision and other meetings scheduled for public comment click here.