Pocatello, Idaho: BlueRibbon Coalition supports National Park Service Final Rule allowing PWC Permanent Access to Lake Powell

Page, Arizona - 9/25/03: On Friday, September 26th, the National Park Service will release and publish a final rule finalizing the manner in which personal watercraft (“PWC”) can access Lake Powell. One of the Nation’s most popular PWC destinations, Lake Powell lies within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on the Utah-Arizona border. The final rule presents the agency's last step in a planning process that started in 2001. The final rule is effective immediately.

The rule-making process and accompanying environmental impact statement (“EIS”) has provided for thorough analysis and extensive public involvement. It was through the EIS process that the National Park Service (NPS) selected alternative B from the final EIS because it best meets the general management objectives of the NPS for protecting recreation area resources and values while offering recreation opportunities. A Record of Decision was issued on June 30th, 2003 formally selecting alternative B. The final rule is consistent with the Record of Decision and completes the Park Service’s planning process for PWC at Lake Powell.

Jack Welch, President of the BlueRibbon Coalition and founder of the Lake Powell PWC Action Task Force, stated "on the surface we are pleased by the final rule allowing permanent PWC access to Lake Powell. We have not had time to review the final rule in detail but it appears the Park Service has made a positive step forward with a decision which will allow continued PWC access with reasonable restrictions."

PWC access to the Lake has been in limbo following a series of lawsuits stretching back to 2001, when a case targeting PWC use throughout the Park Service system was brought by the anti-PWC Blue Water Network in the District of Columbia. A settlement in that suit required the Park Service to generate a new PWC rule, with PWC use allowed only on certain bodies of water during a “grace period.” The Park Service was unable to complete a new rule at Lake Powell prior to expiration of the “grace period” and therefore implemented a PWC ban at Lake Powell in November, 2002. However, PWC enthusiasts filed suit in U.S. District Court in Utah in March 2003, and a settlement in that case allowed the Park Service to temporarily remove the ban at Lake Powell while the new PWC rule was being completed. As a result, PWC use has continued at Lake Powell since the spring of 2003.

Freddie Hancock, owner of a Page, Arizona business catering to PWC enthusiasts added, "this long-anticipated final rule will hopefully solidify the role of PWC-based recreation at Lake Powell and will allow families and local businesses to better plan for activities at the Lake." Tim McDaniels, another Page PWC-oriented business owner agreed, observing "the ability to lift the PWC ban helped to reinforce the right of public access to our national recreation areas for all boaters. We are pleased to see a long-term rule in place. We hope that all interests can work together in fine-tuning a management scheme that will always include reasonable PWC access to Lake Powell."

The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation access advocacy organization which has worked with local and national PWC interests on the Lake Powell issue. Visit the BlueRibbon Coalition website at www.sharetrails.org for the latest details.


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