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In preparation for Labor Day Weekend, Biscanye National Park Superintendent Mark Lewis has announced permanent changes in park regulations that are intended to result in a safer boating experience for the public. Beginning Saturday, September 1, 2007, law enforcement staff will be limiting the number of boats rafted or tied together to no more than 5, with a minimum distance between the rafted or individual vessels of at least 100 feet. A unified team of National Park Service Rangers, in conjunction with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the US Coast Guard and Miami Dade County Police will be on the water in both marked and unmarked vessels to enforce these restrictions, which will apply to the Sands Key and University Dock anchorage areas only.
Groups of friends and families traditionally come to the Sands Key area in Biscayne National Park to anchor or beach their boats and congregate on the emergent sand shoal to enjoy a day of swimming, sunning and general recreating. However, recent weekend gathering have been tarnished by numerous domestic violence and assault calls, public drunkenness, and other activities that are inconsistent with the purposes for which the park was established and have resulted in physical harm to area boaters.
“Over the past year, there has been an increase in the number and frequency of emergency situations and accidents in the Sands Key area. When large numbers of boats are anchored or tied together, it may be impossible for emergency vessels and personnel to access this area if the need arises”, states Chief Ranger Steve Clark. “Our biggest concern is to provide for the safety and well being of our park users. These new regulations are designed to better enable us to do so”.
The Sands Key/University Dock area will also continue to be designated a slow speed zone due to the high volume of boat traffic in the area.