Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON – Marshall County Fiscal Court apparently rejected a request from Kentucky Fish and Wildlife to maintain two boat ramps in Marshall County.
Judge-Executive Mike Miller read a request for a memorandum of agreement submitted by Fish and Wildlife pertaining to boat ramps at Sledd Creek and in the Tennessee River in the tail waters of Kentucky Dam. Fish and Wildlife requested Marshall County assume responsibility for policing trash, mowing and controlling invasive weeds at the boat ramps.
The request also asked the county to assist with law enforcement upon the ramps, while Fish and Wildlife would maintain primary law enforcement duties. The county would be required to inspect each ramp every two weeks and submit a monthly maintenance report to Fish and Wildlife.
Mark Marraccini, spokesman for Fish and Wildlife, said his department assumed responsibility for the ramps from the Kentucky State Parks in order to secure federal grant funding from the Sport Fishing Restoration Project.
Fish and Wildlife improved the ramps from single-lane gravel ramps to two-lane paved ramps. Marraccini added that Fish and Wildlife has assumed custody of hundreds of such ramps across the state and provided the upgrades.
“This means we will have to keep them clean, keep them mowed and provide a report every month,” Miller said. “What it does is bind us to do all kinds of things. I’m not for it.”
Miller said the county has provided these services when asked by Fish and Wildlife. He added he did not support obligating the county to provide services regularly while receiving nothing in return.
Sheriff Kevin Byars said his deputies do patrol the boat ramps on an infrequent basis, but did not know if that would satisfy Fish and Wildlife’s stipulation.
“I don’t mind helping out, but we have our own boat ramps and docks that we need to maintain,” Miller said. “I will defer to the county attorney for our proper response, but I think we need to say, ‘Thank you but no thank you.’ We’ll help when we can, but we don’t need to be contractually obligated in this situation.”
County Commissioner Bob Gold said he objected to Fish and Wildlife’s promise to provide law enforcement as long as the county assisted. He wondered what prompted the request.
Marraccini said Fish and Wildlife asks counties to assist with boat ramp maintenance because it has jurisdiction over hundreds of ramps across the state.
“If every county was like Marshall and had two boat ramps, that would be close to 250 ramps across the state,” Marraccini said. “We don’t have adequate staffing to control trash and to mow. What we do is to get an agreement for these services with local governments.”
Fish and Wildlife has several similar agreements with other counties, Marraccini said. He added many of these counties used similar services as in-kind matching to obtain the federal grant.
“If counties do not provide the maintenance, we can’t get there to maintain what the counties have got,” Marraccini said. “They’ve received new, nice boat ramps that may attract people from other counties or other states. The ramps are a nice incentive to bring people to counties. They spend money in the county while they are boating. It’s a nice incentive to bring tourists to any area.”