Protecting Kentucky Sportsmen and Adventure Tourism
May 21, 2013
Rep. Andy Barr discusses on the House floor the importance of passing S.982, the Freedom to Fish Act. During this speech, he emphasizes the importance of stopping the Army Corps of Engineers from imposing restrictions on Kentucky's river systems, which would consequently serve as barriers to fishing, family time, and Kentucky tourism.
Spring is upon us-- a season that is important to several of Kentucky's signature industries. Not only does spring bring with it the start of the horse racing season and the Kentucky Derby, but it also marks the beginning of the adventure and outdoor tourism season as well.
Tourism is an $11.7 billion dollar signature industry in Kentucky, employing over 166,000 Kentuckians and accounting for 1 in 10 jobs across our Commonwealth. A major part of Kentucky tourism stems from one of America's favorite past times—fishing.
In the Sixth Congressional District, the Kentucky River is enjoyed by many, as it stretches from the Daniel Boone National Forest and meanders through the horse farms of the central Bluegrass, specifically in Woodford and Franklin Counties. Fishermen especially enjoy angling in the Kentucky River's tail waters surrounding locks and dams, areas known for their abundance of fish.
Unfortunately, the Army Corps of Engineers has deemed it will prohibit tail water fishing in a "sister river" just south of my district— the Cumberland River. This is yet another example of government overreach, where this time the government is telling us how to fish in water systems that have been safely utilized for generations. We must not allow the Corps to set a precedence for regulating how Kentuckians and Americans alike spend their time outdoors.
As our fragile economy continues to recover, the families I represent tell me they plan on sticking closer to home for their recreation this spring and summer. Overregulation of fishing is a deterrent to family time and harms our local businesses that depend on revenue from seasonal recreation and tourism.
I ask my colleagues to join me in support of the Freedom to Fish Act, which places a two-year moratorium on the Corps' plan to restrict access to tail waters in the Cumberland River. This will allow us time to implement a permanent plan to stop the Army Corps from setting a precedence of restricting access to any tail waters going forward. I am an original cosponsor of Mr. Whitfield's companion bill in the House that does just this and which will protect fishermen, rural economies, and Americans' rights to choose how they recreate.
I yield the balance of my time."