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Contact: Jim Northup, 906-387-2607, ext. 202
The National Park Service has scheduled three public scoping sessions for the new planning process involving personal watercraft (PWC) use at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The new planning process is required as a result of a federal court ruling issued in July 2010.
At these meetings, National Park Service (NPS) staff will brief the public on the planning effort's purpose, need, objectives and preliminary alternatives. In addition, NPS staff will answer questions and solicit input from the public on issues and concerns they want addressed as part of the planning process and its analysis of environmental consequences. The planning process will only apply to the use of PWCs and not to any other type of watercraft.
The Munising meeting will be held at the Alger Heritage Center, 1496 Washington Street, on Tuesday, October 23, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
The Marquette meeting will be held at the Marquette Federated Women's Clubhouse, 104 West Ridge Street, on Wednesday, October 24, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
The Grand Marais meeting will be held at the Burt Township Community Center, E21738 Brazel Street, on Thursday, October 25, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
The meetings will begin with opening remarks from park superintendent Jim Northup and other NPS staff. An open house format will follow to provide opportunities to discuss interests and concerns with NPS staff. People may also submit comments on written forms available at the meetings, online, or via e-mail.
In September 2005, the NPS completed an Environmental Assessment (EA) as National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance for a special regulation to allow PWC use at the park. In October 2005, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore implemented the special regulation that allowed for the limited use of PWC on the surface of Lake Superior within the park, between the park's western boundary near Sand Point, to the east end of Miners Beach. The regulation also required that PWCs operate in full compliance with State of Michigan regulations pertaining to PWC use. Under this regulation, PWCs are not allowed to operate in any other portion of the park.
In July 2010, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia concluded that the NPS NEPA analysis was inadequate. The court allowed PWC use to continue at Pictured Rocks under the existing regulation, but required the NPS to initiate a new planning process to address the court's concerns with the previous EA. This planning process will produce a new analysis of the environmental consequences of PWC use in the park and, like the previous EA for PWC use, could result in selecting the alternative to continue the current PWC use, expand use along the Pictured Rocks shoreline, or ban PWC use within the park. A final decision is expected in 2013.
"This is an important issue for the national lakeshore, and I urge all interested stakeholders to take full advantage of the opportunities that will be presented to provide us with your thoughts regarding PWC use within the park," Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore superintendent Jim Northup said.
Any person wishing to receive notifications concerning this process can submit an e-mail address, which will be placed on a mailing list. Requests can be sent to piro_personal_watercraft @ nps.gov e-mail us. Comments will not be accepted at this email.
To submit a comment online, please visit http://parkplanning.nps.gov/piropwc