W A S H I N G T O N, April 12, 2001 -- Jet Skis and other personal watercraft will bebanned in all national parks and recreation areas after two moresummers under a settlement approved by a federal judge today.
The gasoline-powered personal watercraft are already banned from66 of the 87 parks, recreational areas and seashores wheremotorized boats are allowed throughout the nation. Today's orderby U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler affects the remaining 21 parks.
Kessler dismissed a challenge from watercraft manufacturers andvendors to the agreement negotiated last December by the InteriorDepartment and the Bluewater Network, a San Francisco-basedenvironmental group. The Bush administration endorsed the accord.
The Park Service agreed that unless it can prove the machinesdon't harm the environment on a site-by-site basis, each will beadded to a list of Jet Ski-free zones by Sept. 15, 2002.
"This Jet Ski settlement is great news for the nationalparks," said Sean Smith, spokesman for the San Francisco-basedBluewater Network environmental group that had sued the NationalPark Service. "It will better protect the visiting public as wellas park resources and wildlife from these noisy, smelly anddangerous machines."
Ski Industry: ‘We've Been Singled Out’
Last year, the Park Service banned Jet Skis from two-thirds ofthe national parks. That prompted Bluewater Network to file afederal lawsuit to widen the ban to the remaining 21 parks andrecreation areas. The Personal Watercraft Industry Association andthe American Watercraft Association tried unsuccessfully tointervene.
Manufacturers and owners have argued that personal watercraftpollute less and are more maneuverable than motorboats, and thatthe nation's 1.2 million watercraft owners have a right to usepublic waterways.
Monita Fontaine, the industry association's director, saidtoday she was disappointed but still expected to get Jet Skis,which cost an average of $7,000, approved for use in the parksbased on new technology that cuts emissions and noise.
"We're not happy with the process, we believe we've beensingled out," she said. "You can take any other boat you want inthe park — you can take a cigarette boat."
Over the past three years, she said, the two-stroke outboardmotors used in Jet Skis have reduced their hydrocarbon emissions by75 percent and their noise by 70 percent.
"If there is evidence that there is a substantial impact on theenvironment from Jet Ski use, they have the right to ban them,"she said. "However, we believe that we will be able to pass anyenvironmental assessment."