I’ll get straight to it: Once again, your rights as personal watercraft enthusiasts are at stake. In this case, I’m talking about the Gulf Islands National Seashore (GUIS) National Park. Certain types are seeking a permanent ban on PWCs within the park boundaries with their initial actions being brought on by a frivolous lawsuit.
If you checked the link, you may have noticed how carefully the document was orchestrated to cast our kind in such a poor light. Words like “loud,” “disturb,” “destroy,” “dangerous,” “polluting,” and “degrade.” Are you getting the picture here? It’s obvious that proponents of the ban view personal watercraft, and those that operate them, in the worst manner possible.
Obviously the plaintiffs have failed to realize the positive gains the PWC industry has made in the last ten years. Industry standards now include “greener” 4-stroke engines with better fuel efficiency and lower decibel outputs. The GUIS also shares water with a lengthy portion of the nearby Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW). As a major shipping channel, the GIWW sees a steady flow of tug & barge traffic in addition to other commercial marine vessels. Considering all the marine traffic types, outside of the kayakers and sail boats, the PWC may be the vessel with the smallest physical and carbon footprint.
In case you’re thinking this issue involves a few, uninhabited barrier islands, think again. The GUIS includes parts of Cat Island in the Mississippi sound and goes as far east as Navarre Beach in the Florida panhandle. This includes waters surrounding Cat, West & East Ship, Horn, and Petit Bois islands. Back on the mainland, the park takes in both sides guarding the entrance into Pensacola Bay and most of Santa Rosa Island. A quick view of the park map will show you just how vast GUIS is and how far reaching such a ban will be.
What can you do? Defend your rights and let your voice be heard! Public comment is now ongoing: Public comment is being used by the National Park Service to consider the future of PWCs within GUIS and will be taken at the following meetings:
Monday, 11.18.13, 3:30PM to 7:30PM
Florida District, Naval Live Oaks Visitor Center
1801 Gulf Breeze Parkway
Gulf Breeze, FL
Tuesday, 11.19.13, 3:30PM to 7:30PM
Mississippi District, Davis Bayou Visitor Center
3500 Park Rd
Ocean Springs, MS