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Great Lakes Article:

Editorial: Coast Guard's Right Decision
Grand Haven Tribune
Published December 22, 2006

Give credit to the U.S. Coast Guard for listening.

After overwhelming opposition to its plan to conduct live fire training on Lake Michigan, the Coast Guard announced Monday that it has dropped those plans.

It's a good decision.

The Coast Guard's plans were doomed from the start, especially since Coast Guard officials initiated live fire proposals with very little public notice.

Most of the public learned about the plans through media reports — just days before a deadline for public comments.

Fortunately, U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra stepped in and convinced Coast Guard officials to conduct a series of public hearings, including one in Spring Lake.

The majority of the people who attended the meetings spoke out again the Coast Guard's plans, citing potential dangers for boaters and environmental concerns.

We applaud Rear Adm. John F. Crowley, Jr., commander of the district that oversees the Great Lakes, for admitting that mistakes were made in failing to adequately inform the public.

There were some legitimate concerns that needed to addressed.

Environmentalists have said that the thousands of lead bullets the Coast Guard planned to fire into the Great Lakes would endanger an already fragile Great Lakes.

And boaters expressed concern that the live fire training would endanger boaters who might accidentally stray into areas where training sessions were occurring.

But as Adm. Crowley reiterated Monday, it is still important that Coast Guard personnel be trained for possible terrorists attacks.

Terrorism shouldn't be taken lightly. All we have to do is recall Sept. 11, 2001.

We need the Coast Guard to be as well trained as any other branch of service.

Yes, there are environmental and safety concerns.

In fact, Hoekstra suggested that the Coast Guard use rubber bullets instead of lead bullets, alleviating the fears of environmentalists.

And Coast Guard officials said live fire training sessions would have been held during times when there would be little boating.

Some will argue that lost anchors, fishing lures and pollution from the Grand River endanger our Great Lakes as well.

The Coast Guard should take the information it collected and work out a solution that will satisfy as many people as possible.

We need to preserve the Great Lakes. But, at the same time, we need to be able to protect the United States.


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