PWC Return to Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
June 2, 2005
Filed under Uncategorized
A final rule on personal watercraft (PWC) use at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in Montana and Wyoming finds in favor of PWC use.
The ruling to reopen Bighorn National Recreation to PWC use was published this week in the Federal Register, and is effective immediately.
The move comes after discussions lasting nearly three years. In 2002, the National Park Service was required by a court settlement to restrict PWC in 21 park units pending the results of scientific studies regarding the vessels’ impact. Seven units have completed these studies and now welcome personal watercraft; six other units are in the final stages of the rulemaking process to re-allow the vessels.
The environmental assessment study at Bighorn Canyon concludes that PWC present “no significant impact,” and are an appropriate boating activity for the National Recreation Area. Of three proposed rules, the park’s preferred alternative welcomes PWC use with reasonable regulations, such as no-use zones on the southern shoreline, vessel inspections, and user education programs.
PWC use will be allowed on most of the 60-mile long, 12,700 acre Bighorn Lake with exception of areas south of South Narrows. State law in Montana requires PWC operators age 13 and 14 to take an approved boating safety course and carry a certificate of completion. Riders 12 and younger must be accompanied by an adult. Wyoming state law requires PWC operators to be at least 16 years old.