- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 11, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Bush administration will not try to delay a ban on personal watercraft scheduled to take effect April 22 in 13 national parks and recreation areas.
The ban is a result of a Clinton-era rule that sets a deadline for parks to establish regulations governing the watercraft or impose a blanket ban.
Personal watercraft, familiarly known by the trade name Jet Ski, are high-speed, gas-powered vessels designed for one person to ride.
So far, eight of the 13 parks have decided to ban the watercraft. Superintendents at five other parks have decided some watercraft use might be appropriate, but environmental assessments are still under way and rules are being drafted at those parks, meaning they will be forced to ban watercraft April 22.
The National Park Service had considered trying to push back the deadline at the five parks where rules were being crafted but didn't have the legal authority to do so, said Kym Hall, regulations program manager for the park service.
"We are going to have to close temporarily," she said. "We didn't want to have to do that, but we're going to have to."
The park service plans to make an announcement today to explain the reasons for the closures to the public. Eight other parks have until Sept. 15 to adopt rules for watercraft or ban them.
The park service has prohibited watercraft use on 66 of the 87 bodies of water under its jurisdiction.
Two factors could delay the April 22 ban:
A watercraft industry group has asked a federal judge in Texas to prevent the ban from taking effect. The judge has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday.
The House could vote as early as next week on a bill that would postpone the ban until December 2004, although it is unlikely the bill will make it through the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Steve Bosak of the National Parks Conservation Association said personal watercraft are inappropriate in national parks and threaten the entire park experience.
"These are places that Americans go to get away from the noise of their everyday lives and hear the waves lapping against the shore without hearing the incessant buzzing of the Jet Ski sound," Mr. Bosak said.
But Monita Fontaine, executive director of the Personal Watercraft Industry Association, which sued the park service over the rule, said it was premature to close bodies of water to the vessels before environmental assessments were completed.
"You have a disregard of science, a disregard of legal procedure and a disregard of public opinion," she said. "We have the decision based on the whim of the superintendent who happened to be stationed in that particular park."

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