PWC could return to Cape Lookout

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Personal watercraft, which have been banned from North Carolina's Cape Lookout National Seashore for almost three years, could return as soon as this summer, the Charlotte News & Observer reported in a story today.

The National Park Service, in an environmental assessment released this week, has recommended that the watercraft be permitted to come ashore at 10 spots in the 56-mile seashore, the newspaper reported.

Personal watercraft would have access to five of the 10 miles of available sandy beach on the seashore's sound side under the preferred alternative.

"We thought that was a good middle-of-the-road amount," Wouter Katel, chief ranger at Cape Lookout Seashore, told the newspaper.

Katel said that the Park Service's review of public comments on the alternatives and preparation of a special regulation would take several months. If the service allows limited access, he said, the soonest the reviews could be completed would be June.

Jeff Ludwig, regulatory affairs manager for the Personal Watercraft Industry Association, praised the Park Service for considering ways to allow riders to access the seashore. However, he said, the agency's studies do not justify keeping the craft out of other areas.

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