After Long Legal Battle over Environmental Rights, Jet Ski Ban is Reinstated in Kachemak Bay


On the morning of Thursday, November 16, many jet ski enthusiasts near Homer, Alaska, woke up to disappointing news: the two-year-long lawsuit to reinstate the ban on personal watercraft (PWC) in the area had come to an end, and the ruling had not been in their favor.

The ruling follows a lawsuit filed by conservation groups in the Kachemak Bay area, challenging the 2021 ruling that permitted jet ski use in the Kachemak Bay and Fox River Flats Critical Habitat Areas.

 The region, covering nearly 230,000 acres of bay, mud flats, and marshlands, had been protected since 1972 as “especially crucial to the perpetuation of fish and wildlife,” according to the Alaska State Legislature. In 2020, however, the Fish and Game repealed the ban on jet skis in the protected area, with Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang arguing that PWC were no longer a danger to the protected zones.

As quoted in Alaska Public Media’s article on the ruling, the Commissioner claimed, “We didn’t see any potential impact from allowing jet skis.”

Shortly after the decision in 2021, conservation groups, represented by Scott Kendall of the law firm Cashion Gilmore & Lindemuth in Anchorage, challenged the ruling. After a two-year-long hearing, Judge Adolf Zeman ultimately ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

Zeman’s ruling was based largely on a 1999 literature review conducted by the Department of Fish and Game, suggesting that erratic movements and increased noise in shallow water areas have a negative impact on the protected ecosystems.

While seen as a victory for inlet conservationist activists, many water sports enthusiasts living in the area are unhappy with the ban’s reinstatement, and the Department plans to challenge the decision in the near future.

See the full write-up on this from Alaska Public Media at the following link:  Lawsuit Decision Reinstates Jet Ski Ban in Kachemak Bay 

 

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