MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT) -- Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander is ratcheting up his confrontation with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers over a ban on fishing below Corp dams along the Cumberland River.
The Senator is threatening the Corp's funding over the dispute.
During a senate subcommittee hearing Wednesday, Alexander lectured Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy and Corp Commander Lt. General Thomas Bostick.
“We don’t need a big brother holding our hands while we’re fishing down in Tennessee or Kentucky or any other place. And it’s more than fishing. You’re really thumbing your nose at the elected officials of the people of this country.”
General Bostick responded that the Corp wasn’t being disrespectful, but says the agency recently discovered that it was failing to enforce restrictions on dam tail waters fishing that have been on the books for some time.
“Complicating that is the number of deaths that occurred; deaths that occurred with folks that were wearing life vests. We cannot predict what is going to happen to them. We cannot really predict when it’s going to be dangerous. The main thing was that it was a safety issue.”
Bostick went on to note that the Corp has decided it will not put physical barriers up to keep boaters away from the dams, but will put warning buoys out instead.
Not happy with Bostick and Darcy's responses, Alexander threatened to tie up Corp funding in committee.
“You’re going to find it very hard to get my approval for any re-programming request for the Corp of Engineers anywhere in the country until I get the Corp’s attention on this issue and some reasonably attitude.”
The Corp says it will have the new restrictions in place by the end of the summer.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency recently announced that it will not help the Corp enforce the ban.