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Endangered Species Likely to Prevent Return of 720′ Level for Lake Cumberland in 2014

An endangered fish probably will prevent the water level in Lake Cumberland from being raised to the traditional summer pool for the eighth year in a row.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Wednesday that it had found populations of the tiny duskytail darter in five miles of stream area in the headwaters of the lake.

Allowing the lake surface to rise to the traditional level of 723′ for the start of the summer tourism season would inundate the areas. The Corps can’t do anything that would damage the habitat until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurs on a plan to minimize the effect on the fish.

The two agencies probably can’t finish the process in time for the Corps to let spring rains accumulate and push the lake level to 723′ by Memorial Day. That would leave the target elevation at 705 feet.

That is not welcome news for some lake users and businesses, who believe returning to the traditional summer pool level would boost visitation.

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