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Great Lakes Article:

PWC may be allowed along Pictured Rocks: Cruising the lake
By John Pepin
The Mining Journal
Published November 26th, 2004


MUNISING - National Park Service rangers are one step closer to partially lifting a ban on personal watercraft use at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

A proposed regulation was published last week in the Federal Register, opening up a 60-day public comment period that ends Jan. 14.
The rule would open up parts of Lake Superior along the park boundary to PWCs. But before the regulation is adopted, rangers are seeking some final public input.

"National Park Service staff will review the comments and see if there are things that we would want to change," said Pictured Rocks Chief Ranger Larry Hach.

After the comment period closes, a final rule is prepared that is reviewed again by National Park Service staff. Then, the final rule is published in the Federal Register.

Any modifications made to the rule after the public comment period would be explained when the final rule is issued. Pictured Rocks could then reopen to PWC use next summer.

"The ban is still in effect until the final rule is published and 30 days after that it (the final rule) becomes effective," Hach said.

Currently, PWCs are banned within a quarter-mile of shore along the entire length of the park boundary from Munising to Grand Marais.

Horsepower limitations on inland lakes at Pictured Rocks effectively prohibit use of PWCs, which include various types of water vehicles, including Jet Skis.

The proposed regulation would open a 6-mile stretch of Lake Superior waters. PWCs could be launched from a boat ramp at Sand Point east of Munising and used within the lakeshore's jurisdiction up to the east end of Miners Beach. Riders could land their craft on Miners Beach.

The remaining park lakeshore, which stretches roughly 34 miles east toward Grand Marais, would remain closed under the proposed rule.

Non-motorized boaters, including kayakers, and PWC users are the two major groups using the park's jurisdictional waters of Lake Superior. Both groups are increasing, boaters more than PWC users.

Pictured Rocks is not considered to be an area with heavy PWC usage. However, no firm usage statistics are available. There have been no major PWC accidents at the park.

PWC use was banned at all national parks and lakeshores on April 21, 2002, unless individual parks had special regulations to allow PWC use in place at the time.

Prior to the ban, PWCs could be used along the entire breadth of the lakeshore at Pictured Rocks. When the ban was put in place, Pictured Rocks staff was in the process of completing an environmental assessment on park PWC use.

A draft of the environmental study was previously commented on by the public. The study explored three alternatives, including discontinuing PWC use permanently, allowing use with some restrictions for sensitive areas along Lake Superior, and allowing unrestricted use on Lake Superior. Park staff preferred the alternative that would allow use with restrictions.

Comments on the proposed rule may be addressed to Superintendent Karen Gustin, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, P.O. Box 40, Munising, MI 49862, or by E-mail to piro@den.nps.gov

"PWC rule" should be the subject line and the writer's name and return address included in the body of the message.

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