Lamar still angling for fishermen’s vote?

Sen. Lamar Alexander’s campaign commercials feature his efforts on behalf of the “freedom to fish” by successfully blocking a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal to prohibit fishing immediately below dams. Now, he’s fighting efforts to curtail federal spending on fish hatcheries.

As the Elizabethton Star reports, “National fish hatcheries in Erwin and Dale Hollow have a friend in U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander.”

Here’s Alexander’s news release (belatedly; it was sent out last week):
WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) urged Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to support Tennessee’s national fish hatcheries at Dale Hollow and Erwin today. He did so while also joining a letter with House and Senate colleagues representing mitigation fish hatcheries that called on Jewell to delay the implementation of recommendations in a pending U.S. Fish and Wildlife report that could jeopardize the future of mitigation hatcheries in Tennessee and around the country.

Alexander said, “These hatcheries provide broodstock that help make trout fishing in Tennessee some of the best in the country. The nearly 900,000 Tennesseans and visitors who buy fishing licenses each year depend upon these hatcheries to replace trout in Tennessee’s fisheries.”

“If federal locks and dams are going to destroy fish, then the federal government has a responsibility to replace them. That’s why it’s important to make sure Tennessee’s hatcheries remain open,” Alexander said. “I helped work out a deal with the Tennessee Valley Authority to keep the hatcheries producing fish for the next three years, and as part of its national review I hope the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will take that into account.”

The letter, which Alexander joined with U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) and Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), asked for a 60-day delay in the implementation of any recommendations for closure of any national fish hatcheries or other plans, so the public could review them.

“It is our understanding that this study is soon to be released, along with decisions about hatchery closures,” Alexander and his colleagues said in the letter. “We are gravely concerned that Congress has not been consulted on the matter.”

In May, Alexander announced that he had brokered a deal to keep open Tennessee’s hatcheries at Dale Hollow and Erwin. The three-year agreement between the Tennessee Valley Authority and federal and state wildlife agencies has TVA paying to keep the hatcheries producing fish after budget woes had threatened their ability to do so.