Lake Powell PWC Ban Postponed

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by Jack Welch,
BRC President

Friday, September 6th, in a totally unexpected move, an eleventh hour agreement postponed the September 15th personal watercraft (PWC) ban at Lake Powell. That?s correct, with only a week to go before the September 15th PWC ban became a reality! The Park Service and Bluewater Network reached an agreement extending PWC use at Lake Powell, and several other National Recreation Areas, until November 6, 2002. This extension of the ban?s effective date will save this year's PWC season in most cases. The details of the extension agreement have not yet been made public, so "the Devil is in the details" and the possible effect on the EIS process is not yet known. Our website at www.sharetrails.org will have those details as soon as we get them. But the good news is that there will be no ban on the 15th of September.

The BlueRibbon Coalition and its partners were pleasantly surprised by this eleventh hour agreement that extends the season. We have all been working hard to overcome the ban and get the Environmental Impact Statement/Special Rule making process completed. In addition, we are very pleased that every one of the completed required environmental studies has recommended continued access for PWC owners to the area studied.

It should be noted that, despite the positive recommendations, not a single National Recreation Area has completed the rulemaking process. This means that unless these processes are completed as of the new deadline (November 6, 2002), PWC use will cease until a special regulation is finalized.

In addition, please note that this postponement of the ban does not guarantee PWC access to Lake Powell after November 6, 2002. It is the resolve of the BlueRibbon Coalition and its partners to keep the pressure on the National Park Service to complete their environmental studies and to issue the special regulations authorizing continued PWC access to Lake Powell.

At this time we must start focusing on PWC access to Lake Powell for next season. We have been assured by the Park Service that they will release their Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) by mid-September. The releasing of the draft starts the clock running. I will not take the time to go through the details of the EIS process to reach a new decision on PWC use at Lake Powell. That information is already available at our website. What I do want to tell you is that if we all work together to get the process completed, we should be back on the Lake by next April or May at the latest. Sound easy? Well, if we all keep the pressure on the Park Service, we can and will make it happen.

Listed below are four steps we must all commit to, so we can reach our goal.

The first step is to fill out an information sheet and join the BlueRibbon Coalition PWC Task Force. We must continue to expand our organization and outreach. This form is available at the BlueRibbon Coalition website (www.sharetrails.org), or can be requested from our office. We all need to reach out to the business community, government officials and PWC recreationists. Please tell your fellow recreationists about the PWC Ban at Lake Powell and how their help is needed to overturn it!

Second, we must be prepared to comment on the Draft EIS for Lake Powell which was released on September 13th. We will have a sample letter and information on our website about the Draft EIS is available. If you filled out a comment letter in person or on the website, you will be receiving information directly from the Park Service on the EIS. In addition, please contact the BlueRibbon Office at 1-800-258-3742, ask for Lori and request a "Comment Letter Kit." This kit will help you collect more signed comment letters and spread the word about overturning the ban.

Third, you must request your congressional representative to contact the Park Service in Washington to stress that the Lake Powell PWC EIS process is a key issue. Our form letter requests that the Park Service keep the EIS on track and make completing the process in a timely manner a very high priority. You and your congressman must request that the Park Service staff be given the proper resources to get the job done and get PWCs back on the Lake.

Fourth, we must support the current legislation HR 3853 in Congress to extend the November 6th deadline. (Note: see copy of HR 3853 on the BlueRibbon website, http://www.sharetrails.org/releases/lakepowell/). Even though this legislation has stalled in the House of Representatives, it still is another option. We must work every option.

In closing, Lake Powell PWC use will now close on November 5, 2002, at sunset and remain closed until the environmental analysis is completed and a special regulation is finalized. If we all work together and work the process, we will be back riding the Lake by April or May of next year.

To get more details on the Lake Powell PWC access issue, please visit the BlueRibbon website (www.sharetrails.org) and review the September 9, 2002 Alert, or call the BlueRibbon office at 1-800-258-3742 and request a copy of the Alert.

--Jack Welch is the President of the BlueRibbon Coalition. He may be contacted through the BRC main office: P.O. Box 5449, Pocatello, ID, 83202. Phone: 208-237-1008. Email: .

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