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Know the West

No one happy in Hells

  The first Forest Service proposal in 12 years to restrict jetboats in Hells Canyon may sink. Both conservationists and jetboat advocates have blasted the preferred alternative, which restricts jetboats three days of the week, from July 4 through Labor Day, on 17 miles of the Snake River, which straddles the Oregon-Idaho border. Ric Bailey, floatboat outfitter and executive director of the Hells Canyon Preservation Council, says noisy jetboats, some as long as 44 feet and powered by 900 horsepower engines, should be totally banned because they erode beaches and destroy salmon eggs. The law creating Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, however, provides for shared use by both jetboats and people-powered rafts, and jetboat manufacturer Rich Rogers accuses the Forest Service of caving in to a "vocal minority of floatboaters." Both jetboat interests and conservationists say they will appeal the plan. A Forest Service proposal to limit jetboats in 1982 faced numerous appeals before former Assistant U.S. Agriculture Secretary John Crowell removed all restrictions on jetboats in 1984. The newest plan, released earlier this month, must still pass one final hurdle of review by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Comments can be sent until Aug. 8 to Forest Supervisor, Wallowa-Whitman, Attn. Snake River Planning Team, P.O. Box 907, Baker City, OR 97814 (503/523-6391).