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JetSkis Banned in All (U.S.) National Parks
Sorry to be so late in getting this out, but I only just found out
about itmyself. According to a thread in the "rec.sport.jetski"
newsgroup initiated on 9/24/97 by "firstname.lastname@example.org", it seems
that JETSKIS HAVE BEEN BANNED IN ALL (U.S.) NATIONAL PARKS! This one
issue has generated several hundred messages in that newsgroup in the
last month and a half. The following is the text of an article from
the Duluth News-Tribune which was included with the intial post.
There wasn't any date given, but I presume it was published just prior
to the message. If anyone has more current information on this issue
I'd be glad to hear about it. The National Park Service web address
David Staudacher - email@example.com
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NATIONAL PARKS SERVIVE BANS PERSONAL WATERCRAFT
Ban infuriates waterbike industry
By John Myers
Duluth News-Tribune staff writer
The National Park Service is enacting an emergency rule to ban personal
watercraft from all national parks, lakeshores and recreation areas unless
local park superintendents take action to allow them.
In a sweeping move spurred by nationwide complaints against waterbikes,
top officials in the Park Service are drafting a rule to take effect when
it's published in the Federal Register, likely by mid-October.
Park rangers say their problems with personal watercraft are many and
mounting. And the Park Service action is only part of what appears to be a
national backlash against the waterbikes.
"Considering the volume of complaints we're getting, it seems everyone
who doesn't have a personal watercraft can't stand them," Dennis Burnett,
program manager for regulations and jurisdiction for the Park Service in
Washington, told the Duluth News-Tribune.
At Canyonlands National Park in Utah, waterbikes are navigating up
whitewater rivers no other motorboats could travel, and they're literally
running head on into rafters and kayakers going downstream.
At Glacier National Park in Montana, voluntary efforts to keep waterbikes
away from swimmers and other visitors on mountain Lake McDonald didn't work,
so the park moved in 1995 to temporarily ban them. That ban remains in
effect. And response has been overwhelmingly favorable.
At Voyageurs, Minnesota's only national park, waterbikes are among the
leading cause of complaints from park visitors. Their use has been a sticking
point in ongoing peace talks between environmental groups and motorized use
supporters over the park's future.
Personal watercraft -- often referred to by the brand names Jet Ski,
Sea Doo or Wave Runner -- had been under consideration as part of a long-term
internal Park Service evaluation of all watercraft use in parks.
But, in an unusual move, Park Service leaders pulled waterbikes out and
moved quickly to ban them.
"We were looking at two years before the normal process would be ready
and, with the impression we were getting from parks across the country, we
couldn't wait that long to take action on Jet Skis," Burnett said. "With
the safety problems and complaints. . . we felt we had to take action now."
Personal Watercraft Industry Association officials are meeting with top
Park Service officials Friday.
This is very upsetting to us. It's a guilty until proven innocent thing
the way they're doing it. It's quite possible this could end up in court,"
said Howard Park, spokesperson for the association.
But the Park Service ban may be hammering home a point the industry has
so far refused to acknowledge -- many Americans don't think the same of
buzzing, weaving waterbikes as they do of regular motorboats.
"They don't seem to comprehend that there may be places Jet Skis don't
belong, and that maybe our national parks are some of those places,"
Supporters of personal watercraft have long said that they shouldn't be
singled out from other motorboats and that a few users, not the vehicles,
are the problem.
But their penchant for accidents and the volume of complaints against
drivers' behavior and noise has both state and federal agencies moving.
Vermont has banned the craft from lakes smaller than 300 acres.
Connecticut became the first state to require mandatory training for all
operators. Jet Ski watercraft, and all two-stroke engines, will banned on
Lake Tahoe starting in 2000 because of the pollution they leave behind.
Washington's San Juan County moved to ban waterbikes last year. The law
was overturned by a lower court after the industry sued. But county
officials, joined by waterbike critics nationwide, are taking the issue to
the Washington Supreme Court.
Locally, the Itasca County Board will consider next week a petition by
residents to ban personal watercraft on the Trout lake chain. It would be
the first such ban in Minnesota.
It hasn't been a good economic summer for the industry, either. After
exploding upward for the past decade, sales of waterbikes are expected to go
down for the second straight year, by as much as 10 percent this year, the
Wall Street Journal reported this month.
Last month a Centers For Disease Control and Prevention study showed
personal watercraft injuries are up four-fold, from 2,860 in 1990 to 12,000
in 1995, while their use increased about three-fold. The study found that
accidents on personal watercraft are 8.5 times more frequent than on
Industry officials say they support increasing education programs like
Connecticut's and that, where education is required, injuries and complaints
"Mandating user education has proven to be effective," Park said.
"We think an education-based approach makes more sense than a ban approach."
Park also noted that makers of Sea Doo announced new technology Tuesday
that will cut noise levels by as much as 50 percent.
At Voyageurs, the personal watercraft issue has been one of a few blocking
points in federally-mediated talks aimed at resolving differences between
environmentalist and motorized use factions. Conservation groups are
demanding they be banned from the park while local interests and the state's
two personal watercraft manufacturers are insisting they be able to stay.
While Voyageurs is built around the principal of motorized boat traffic
on its big lakes, with fishing boats and houseboats the primary means of
transportation and sightseeing in the park, efforts are mounting to
single-out personal watercraft.
"This isn't just an issue for environmentalists, kayakers or canoeists.
Fishermen and motorboat owners are some of the biggest complainers about Jet
Skis," said Laurie Nelson, Minnesota director for the National Parks and
Conservation Association. The association was the first national group to
push Park Service Director Robert Stanton toward the national ban.
"It's the injuries. The noise. The operators are thrill-seekers. These
aren't boats and shouldn't be treated like boats," Nelson said.
Barb West, Voyageurs superintendent, said she'd likely hold meetings over
the winter to gauge public opinion on the use of personal watercraft in the
"If they were operated like a boat it would be a tough decision" whether
to leave the national ban in effect or enact a local exemption, West said.
"But they aren't operated like any other boat. In all of our discussions on
this I really haven't had anyone outside the industry people come up to me
and beg me to keep Jet Skis in Voyageurs National Park."
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