S. 982: Freedom to Fish Act

S. 982

Freedom to Fish Act

Sen. Lamar Alexander

May 21, 2013 (113th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, May 21, 2013, the House is scheduled to consider S. 982, the Freedom to Fish Act,under a suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on May 16, 2013 by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and passed the Senate by unanimous consent.

Bill Summary

S. 982 prohibits the Army Corps of Engineers from restricting public access to waters surrounding dams or civil work structures in the Cumberland River basin for a two year period beginning after the date of enactment.  The bill directs the Secretary to remove any permanent physical barriers constructed in connection with the restricted area.  S. 982 also establishes new criteria for creating or modifying restricted areas in the future, specifying that any restrictions must be based on operational conditions.


Throughout the year, many Americans enjoy fishing America’s abundant waterways.  Some of the most abundant fishing areas are the waters immediately downriver of dams, commonly known as tailwaters.  Because these waters are well oxygenated and offer cover, they are often the best areas to fish on the river.

Beginning late last year, the Army Corps of Engineers re-interpreted a 1996 policy to permanently restrict access to the tailwaters of 10 dams in the Cumberland River basin.  The Corps officially announced this past April[1] that it was moving ahead to implement the new restrictions without considering input from stakeholders.

S. 982 keeps the waters open to fishing by preventing restricted access to waters for two years and ensuring that any future restrictions are based on operational concerns.



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