- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 2, 2017

CRAFTSBURY, Vt. (AP) - After years of conflict between a rowing center and summer cottage owners over use of a northern Vermont pond, the state is proposing to limit the hours that scullers can be on the water.

The draft rules would create scull-free times during summer months on Great Hosmer Pond.

Rowing sculls would be prohibited between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. and sunrise from the last Saturday in May, to the first Monday in September, the Caledonian Record (https://bit.ly/2voJ0ee) reported on Wednesday.

Emily Boedecker, the state’s environmental conservation commissioner, said the draft rule revisions address safety and access concerns. She added that the state is willing to consider alternatives that meet the same goals.

“We have considered all options currently available to us and have made the decision to pursue rulemaking as a possible route to improve use and safety on Great Hosmer,” Boedecker said by email.

The Craftsbury Outdoor Center has operated a rowing camp on the pond since the 1970s, also training athletes from around the world. But cottage owners say there are often too many scullers on the pond for cottage residents to fully enjoy the lake.

Judy Geer, a director of the nonprofit Outdoor Center, said it already bans its programs from the lake during those times, so “it seems unnecessary to go through the cost and hassle of rule-making.”

She said the center also regrets that the rule would negatively affect individual scullers who might bring their boats to the lake and has concerns about the precedent that would be set by banning a human-powered boat from a lake in Vermont.

A representative for the camp owners declined to comment.

Friends of Hosmer Pond, a group that includes year-round residents of the community, has said any decision on water activities doesn’t just affect the Craftsbury Outdoor Center and cottage owners. Members of the community also take advantage of the lake for kayaking, fishing, and swimming.

“It’s simply bad policy-making that the state is rushing forward with a draft rule for Great Hosmer Pond,” said group member Gina Campoli, a resident of Craftsbury. “They appear to be relying entirely on hearsay and the results of a questionable web-based survey. The state should be encouraging non-motorized uses and healthy activities like rowing, not prohibiting them.”

The state expects to finalize the rule language later this month, after which a formal comment period and public hearing would happen within 30 days, Boedecker said.

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