Amistad National Recreation area proposes PWC use

WASHINTON D.C. — Personal watercraft (PWC) will again be included in the recreational mix at Amistad National Recreation Area in southern Texas under a proposed rule published yesterday in the Federal Register, the Personal Watercraft Industry Association (PWIA) reported today.

According to the association, the National Park Service (NPS) proposed rule states that “PWC use would be allowed under a special regulation… and would be managed consistent with the management strategies in effect before November 7, 2002. PWC users could travel wherever other motorized vessels are allowed.”

The rule, expected to be finalized and take effect in time for the 2004 boating season, is consistent with the Amistad strategic plan, stated the association, which recognizes the significance of “offering diverse water-based recreational opportunities.”

“We’re pleased to see that the National Park Service is acknowledging what the industry has known all along,” said Jeff Ludwig, regulatory affairs manager for the PWIA. “That is, that personal watercraft have no unique effect on the environment which would require singling them out for bans or overly restrictive regulation.”

The publication of the Amistad proposed rule marks the fourth unit of the of the National Park Service to complete scientific studies on the impact of personal watercraft and recommend that PWC use be allowed. The settlement terms of a lawsuit brought by an anti-boating group forced many National Recreation Areas and National Seashores to close temporarily to PWC until environmental assessments (EAs) could be performed and a rulemaking process concluded, but every completed study has recommended that PWC be permitted, according to the association.

To date, two National Recreation Areas, Lake Mead and Glen Canyon, along with one National Seashore, Assateague Island allow PWC. Nine other units in addition to Amistad have also completed EAs that show no unique impact from PWC, said the association.

“Although we’re happy that the rulemaking process at Amistad is nearing an end, it’s unfortunate that a tremendous amount of time and money had to be expended in order to continue the status quo, and to once again show that the outrageous claims of anti-access groups are not true. Surely the NPS has more important projects on which to spend its money, such as reducing the staggering maintenance backlog,” said Ludwig.

In addition to the four noted above, the other units of the National Park Service considering PWC use include: Big Thicket (Texas); Bighorn Canyon (Montana/Wyoming); Curecanti (Colorado); Chickasaw (Oklahoma); Cape Lookout (North Carolina); Fire Island (New York); Gateway (New Jersey/New York); Gulf Islands (Florida/Mississipi); Lake Meredith (Texas); Lake Roosevelt (Washington); Padre Island (Texas); and Pictured Rocks (Michigan).

Comments on the proposed rule are due by December 22 and may be mailed to the Superintendent, Amistad National Recreation Area, HRC 3 Box 5J, Del Rio TX 78840. Emailed comments with the subject line “PWC rule” may be sent to, and must include the sender’s name and return address in the body of the message.

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