November 25, 1996 in Nation/World

Jet Boaters Roar Back At Canyon Limits Forest Official Calls Group’s Ads About Hells Canyon Plan A ‘Fear Campaign’

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A media blitz to gain sympathy for jet boat operators is raising the ire of rafting outfitters, Hells Canyon preservationists and the U.S. Forest Service.

Members of the Hells Canyon Alliance, which represents power boat interests, traveled through North Idaho this week to drum up opposition to a plan that limits power boats in the most popular section of Hells Canyon.

The alliance also launched a series of radio ads across Idaho warning of a government out of control and out of touch with its citizens.

The ads also imply that the Forest Service is going to ban power boats from the entire length of the Snake River, Forest Service officials complain.

“It’s part of a fear campaign,” said Bob Richmond, forest supervisor of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

Richmond approved the management plan, which calls for a partial ban on power boats in the wild section of Hells Canyon.

Specifically, the plan would ban power boats on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays every other week on a 21-mile section of the wild portion of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. The restrictions would be in effect during seven weeks from June through August.

Jet boat operators, the city of Riggins and others have filed a total of 68 appeals to the plan. The regional forester is scheduled to rule on some of the appeals by Dec. 12.

Art Seamans of the alliance said the group is trying to raise the awareness of the issues at stake - one of which is fairness.

“Is it fair to take on a valid use and say they can’t go into the canyon because another use doesn’t like them?” he asked.

Rafting outfitters say the plan is reasonable, and point to proposed restrictions on group sizes for rafts, a ban on launches from Pittsburg Landing and the fact that floating, unlike power boating, has been restricted in the canyon since 1977.

Seaman counters that those limits were self-imposed by rafting outfitters, who tired of waiting in line to launch and racing each other to campsites.

Peter Grubb, owner of Rivers Odysseys West in Coeur d’Alene, said the plan represents an attempt at sound management of the canyon.

“The radio ads that the Hells Canyon Alliance are running are pure fiction designed to create hysteria and lead people to believe they are losing inalienable rights,” according to Grubb.

The Hells Canyon Preservation Council, which supports the plan, called the alliance ads “misleading and false.”

While the alliance claims that the partial ban is in violation of the act that created the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Richmond said the act gives his agency the authority to impose limits.

According to Richmond, Congress directed the Forest Service to manage the scenic section of the Snake River in Hells Canyon as largely primitive and the wild section as “vestiges of primitive America.”

The decision to limit power boat use followed a survey of Hells Canyon visitors by the University of Idaho in 1988. “We were trying to find out if there was crowding or if there was not crowding,” Richmond said.

Seaman termed the basis of the decision “social engineering.”

, DataTimes MEMO: Cut in the Spokane edition

This sidebar appeared with the story: WHAT’S HAPPENING The ban: Power boats would be banned on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays every other week on a 21-mile section of the wild portion of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. The restrictions would be in effect during seven weeks from June through August. The protest: Jet boat operators, the city of Riggins and others have filed a total of 68 appeals to the plan. The action: The regional forester is scheduled to rule on some of the appeals by Dec. 12.

Cut in the Spokane edition

This sidebar appeared with the story: WHAT’S HAPPENING The ban: Power boats would be banned on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays every other week on a 21-mile section of the wild portion of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. The restrictions would be in effect during seven weeks from June through August. The protest: Jet boat operators, the city of Riggins and others have filed a total of 68 appeals to the plan. The action: The regional forester is scheduled to rule on some of the appeals by Dec. 12.


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