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S. 982 (113th): Freedom to Fish Act

The text of the bill below is as of May 25, 2013 (Passed Congress).

One Hundred Thirteenth Congress of the United States of America

1st Session

S. 982



To prohibit the Corps of Engineers from taking certain actions to establish a restricted area prohibiting public access to waters downstream of a dam, and for other purposes.


Short title

This Act may be cited as the Freedom to Fish Act .


Restricted areas at corps of engineers dams



In this Act:


Restricted area

The term restricted area means a restricted area for hazardous waters at dams and other civil works structures in the Cumberland River basin established in accordance with chapter 10 of the regulation entitled Project Operations: Navigation and Dredging Operations and Maintenance Policies, published by the Corps of Engineers on November 29, 1996, and any related regulations or guidance.



The term Secretary means the Secretary of the Army, acting through the Chief of Engineers.


Existing Restricted Area

If the Secretary has established a restricted area or modified an existing restricted area during the period beginning on August 1, 2012, and ending on the day before the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall—


cease implementing and enforcing the restricted area until the date that is 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act; and


remove any permanent physical barriers constructed in connection with the restricted area.


Establishing new restricted area

If, on or after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary establishes any restricted area, the Secretary shall—


ensure that any restrictions are based on operational conditions that create hazardous waters;


publish a draft describing the restricted area and seek and consider public comment on that draft prior to establishing the restricted area;


not implement or enforce the restricted area until the date that is 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act; and


not take any action to establish a permanent physical barrier in connection with the restricted area.



For purposes of this section, the installation and maintenance of measures for alerting the public of hazardous water conditions and restricted areas, including sirens, strobe lights, and signage, shall not be considered to be a permanent physical barrier.




In general

Enforcement of a restricted area shall be the sole responsibility of the State in which the restricted area is located.


Existing authorities

The Secretary shall not assess any penalty for entrance into a restricted area under section 4 of the Act entitled An Act authorizing the construction of certain public works on rivers and harbors for flood control, and for other purposes , approved December 22, 1944 ( 16 U.S.C. 460d ).

Speaker of the House of Representatives

Vice President of the United States and President of the Senate