Northwest Republican lawmakers want to swamp efforts to regulate noisy power boats in Hells Canyon. Claiming that "the use of motorized river craft is deeply interwoven in the history, traditions, and culture of Hells Canyon," Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, introduced a bill allowing both powerboats and floatboats year-around access to the entire 71-mile stretch of the Snake River running through the canyon. That contradicts proposed Forest Service rules to keep power boats off 21 miles of the river on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays during July and August. And it leaves Ric Bailey, floatboat outfitter and head of the Hells Canyon Preservation Council, fuming.
"The bill couldn't
be any worse if it legislated ownership of the canyon to the
jetboaters," Bailey says. The bill ignores conflicts between
floatboaters seeking quiet on the river, he says, and power boats,
some driven by 900 horsepower engines. He recounts stories of
kayakers flipped by boat wakes and jetboaters using floaters as a
Sandra Mitchell, head of the
pro-power boat Hells Canyon Alliance, says boaters "do get along
and can get along." Currently, jetboats enjoy unlimited access to
Hells Canyon, while floaters are limited to five launches per day.