Jet Skis: Thrill or scourge?

  With 750,000 Jet Skis currently in operation, and more than 100,000 new "personal watercraft" sold annually, the industry is pushing the Park Service for access to 62 sites on national park waters - nearly double the number of sites currently available in the parks.

But the Park Service and the Department of Interior can't agree on how to manage the fast boats. In September, the Park Service announced plans for a moratorium on the crafts until it completed an environmental assessment for the entire park system. Then the agency reversed its decision in April, deciding to leave management decisions up to individual park superintendents.

Now, the Park Service is fighting a top-down push from the Department of the Interior, which wants the agency to establish stricter Jet Ski regulations system-wide. Several national environmental groups, including the National Parks and Conservation Association and the Bluewater Network, back Interior's position and are supporting a moratorium on Jet Ski use in the parks.

"Jet Skis are the locusts of the sea," says Warner Chabot, executive director for the Center for Marine Conservation. "They are a thrill for one person but destroy the experience for hundreds of others."

Comments on Jet Ski regulations can be submitted until the end of June to Dennis Burnett at the Department of Interior, NPS Ranger Activities Division, 1849 C St. NW, Room 7408, Washington, DC 20240 or by e-mail to [email protected]

*JT Thomas

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