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Contact: Matt Johnson, 786-335-3679
HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA –To protect park resources as well as the safety and welfare of visitors, Biscayne National Park is partnering with other agencies during Columbus Day weekend, October 10-13. It is traditionally the most dangerous weekend of the year for those visiting the park by boat. In recent years safety has improved, fewer boats are involved in accidents or groundings in fragile habitat, and law enforcement entities are increasing their presence.
"Americans set this park aside for its tremendous resources, the splendor of its scenery and the significance of its wildlife," said Superintendent Brian Carlstrom. "We hope that visitors safely enjoy the park as it is, a national treasure."
Special regulations are in force during Columbus Day weekend. Boats are directed into a marked anchorage area on the northwest side of Elliott Key. No more than five boats may be rafted together in this area. A minimum of 100 feet is required between single vessels or groups. This allows access for emergency services.
There is zero tolerance for boating under the influence of alcohol, excessive noise, possessing illegal drugs or promoting unauthorized commercial activities. To avoid arrest, fines of $5,000 or more, and the risk of injury, death or property and resource damage, visitors are encouraged to maintain proper safety and navigation gear, use a sober skipper, prevent littering and not operate boats at night. Boaters should be alert for swimmers or those operating boats under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Safety inspections and "boating under the influence" checks are conducted throughout the weekend.
Agencies partnering with the National Park Service include the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Miami-Dade Police Department, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
For more information about Columbus Day weekend and Biscayne National Park, please visit the park website at https://www.nps.gov/bisc/planyourvisit/columbus-day-weekend.htm, or follow the park on Facebook at www.facebook.com/biscaynenps, or Twitter at www.twitter.com/biscaynenps.
About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.