Banning the buzz

  The National Park Service is developing rules to allow local park officials to restrict, and perhaps ban, personal sit-down or stand-up watercraft. Park Service program manager Dennis Burnett says although the fast watercraft make up only 7 percent of all boaters, they cause more than half of all boating accidents. They also dump about a third of their unburned fuel and oil directly into the water.

Conservation groups hope the new rules are strict. "We're not blindly saying (watercraft such as) JET SKIS are wrong," says Kevin Collins, who works for the Washington, D.C.-based National Parks and Conservation Association. But parks, he adds, "were set aside to protect their natural condition, their tranquility and their silence." Glacier and Everglades national parks have already banned this type of watercraft, and conflict surrounds their use at Olympic National Park in Washington and Canyonlands National Park in Utah. But a complete ban throughout the park system is unlikely, Burnett says.

For more information, call Dennis Burnett at the National Park Service, 202/208-7675; or call the National Parks and Conservation Association at 202/223-6722.

* Sara Phillips