Obama signs Freedom to Fish Act into law
by Franklin Clark, Reporter -- fclark@cadizrecord.com
Jun 05, 2013 | 787 787 recommendations | email to a friend | print
President Barack Obama signed the Freedom To Fish Act early on Monday afternoon.

The law imposes a two-year moratorium on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to install barricades and restrict fishing accesses to tailwaters of dams along the Cumberland River in Kentucky and Tennessee.

In what is surely one of the signs of the Apocalypse, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell gave the President credit for something, saying he appreciates Obama signing the bill. He added that no one he knows supports the Corps’ plan.

“No one I know in Kentucky supported this plan – not fishermen and boaters, not local elected officials, and not the Kentucky Division of Fish and Wildlife,” said McConnell. “I saw that firsthand when I attended the Freedom to Fish Rally with local leaders at Barkley Dam in April, where I had a chance to talk with many area fishermen and business owners about the disastrous effect the Army Corps plan would have had on their livelihoods.”

The fact that even Governor Steve Beshear (D) was against the Corps’ plan gives credence to what McConnell said. Sadly, he wasn’t at the rally.

In April, District One Kentucky State Senator Stan Humphries (R) attended the Freedom to Fish Rally at Barkley Dam. I got to speak to him afterward, and while he wasn’t one of the featured speakers, he did say the Kentucky State Senate passed a resolution showing support of the FTFA.

Another bill on the subject – the Water Resources Development Act – would place a permanent moratorium on the placement of barricades, and while that bill has passed the Senate, the House of Representatives has not yet taken that bill up for a vote.

McConnell says the FTFA allows for enough time for the WRDA to become law and become a permanent moratorium.

“I am pleased Freedom to Fish has been signed into law – and I know I am speaking for many Kentuckians when I say that,” said Senator Rand Paul. “The livelihoods of many business owners and fishermen were at stake, but because of this legislation’s enactment, they will continue to enjoy the freedom to fish without the bureaucratic overreach of the Army Corps.”

I had the opportunity to cover the Freedom To Fish Rally. Sadly, I did not take the dam tour.

Amid all of the conservative boilerplate rhetoric about big government, there was an actual point to be made – that this was a drastic action taken in response to an almost nonexistant threat.

The barricade plan was and is silly and overreaching, and it needs to not be a thing. At most, there should only be barricades when the spillway is open; that would actually make sense and would save as many lives as having the tailwaters barricaded 24/7/365.

I’m forced to agree with Paul when he says that how close to a dam a person can fish should be a “local question.”

Admittedly, fishing isn’t something I do every day, or even every month. But even I can tell the difference between smart fishing regulations and ones that go too far or are ineffective. This is undoubtedly the latter, in my opinion.

Franklin Clark is a reporter for the Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at fclark@cadizrecord.com.
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