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Jet Skis Banned at Lake Powell

  Settlement means that personal watercraft will be banned at all national recreation areas, including Glen Canyon and Lake Mead, effective Sept. 15, 2002.

Two more summers for person watercraft in the national parks. The small vessels that generally accommodate one or two riders are to be banned. in all national parks and recreation areas by Sept. 15, 2002, unless the Park Service can prove the machines don't harm the environment on a site-by-site basis.

   The gasoline-powered boats are already banned from 66 of the 87 parks, recreational areas and seashores where motorized boats are allowed. But the settlement of a case accepted Thursday by U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler affects the
remaining 21.

   Kessler dismissed a challenge from watercraft manufacturers and vendors to the agreement negotiated last December by the Interior Department and the Bluewater Network, a San Francisco-based environmental group. The Bush administration endorsed the accord.

   "This Jet Ski settlement is great news for the national parks," said Sean Smith, spokesman or Bluewater Network, which had sued the National Park Service. "It will better protect the visiting public as well as park resources from these noisy, smelly and dangerous machines."

The Park. Service agreed that each of the sites will be added to a list of personal watercraft-free zones in two years unless it can be shown the boats are harmless. Last year, the Park Service banned them from two-thirds of the national parks and Bluewater Network filed a federal lawsuit to widen the ban to the remaining areas.

    The Personal Watercraft Industry Association and the American Watercraft Association tried unsuccessfully to intervene. Manufacturers and owners have argued that personal watercraft pollute less and are more maneuverable than motorboats, and that the nation's 1.2 million watercraft owners have a right to use public waterways.

   Monita Fontaine, the industry association's director, said Thursday she was disappointed .but still expected to get personal watercraft, which cost an average of $7,000, approved for' use in the parks based on new technology that reduces noise and emissions. Over the past three years, she said. the two-stroke out-board motors used in the boats have reduced their hydrocarbon emissions by 75 percent and their noise by 70 percent,.

   "If there is evidence that there is a substantial impact on the environment from Jet Ski use, they have the right to ban them," she said. "However, we believe that we will be able to pass any environmental assessment."
   The 21 areas affected are:

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Glen Canyon National

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Recreation Area (Arizona, Utah)

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Lake Mead National Recreation Area (Arizona, Nevada)

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Whiskeytown National Recreation Area (California)

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Curecanti National Recreation Area (Colorado)

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Cumberland Island National Seashore (Georgia)

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Gulf Island National Seashore (Florida, Mississippi)

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Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (Indiana)

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Cape Cod National Seashore (Massachusetts)

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Assateague Island National Seashore {Maryland/Virginia)

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Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Michigan)

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Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (Montana)

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Cape Lookout National Seashore (North Carolina)

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Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (New Jersey, Pennsylvania)

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Fire Island National Seashore (New York)

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Gateway National Recreation Area (New York)

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Chickasaw National Recreation Area (Oklahoma)

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Arnistad National Recreation Area (Texas)

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Lake Meredith National Recreation Area (Texas)

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Padre Island National Seashore (Texas)

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Big Thicket National Pre- serve (Texas)

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Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area (Washington)

On the Net:
  Bluewater Network: http://www.bluewaternetwork.org
  National Park Service: http:/ /www.nps.gov
  Personal Watercraft Industry Association: http:/ /www.pwia.org

Source: John Heilprin, AP, Arizona Daily Sun, April 13, 2001, p A1 & 7

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