« Return to this article

Know the West

Park Service bans Jet Skis


A recent settlement between the National Park Service and Bluewater Network, a San Francisco-based conservation group, may eliminate personal watercraft from the entire park system by 2002.

Last March, the National Park Service banned Jet Skis from all but 21 of its units. The watercraft are now restricted to 11 national recreation areas - including Lake Mead and Lake Powell - and 10 national seashores and lakeshores. The recent settlement gives the Park Service until September 2002 to prove that their use at these units complies with the National Environmental Policy Act. Sean Smith, Bluewater Network's Public Lands Director, says, "The law is clear that the Park Service must treat all units with a minimum level of protection."

The case is not yet closed, however: Two motor ski users' and manufacturers' groups have intervened, and Stephan Andranian of the American Watercraft Association says his group will "fight for equal access."

Andranian says the group doesn't propose use in high-profile parks such as Yosemite, but he does think it's appropriate at artificially created reservoirs like Lake Powell.

Kevin Collins of the National Parks Conservation Association counters, "The pollution that comes out of the tailpipe is the same whether it's at Yosemite or Lake Mead."