LAKE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL RECREATION AREA – Some compare them to mosquitoes hooked up to an amplifier. Others say personal watercraft emit the sound of pure, wet summertime fun. Two weeks ago, after the National Park Service lifted a ban against their use, personal watercraft could again be heard bouncing across the waves at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area 50 miles west of Spokane. The machines are no more harmful to the lake than motorboats, according to the 10-page decision issued by the recreation area's superintendent. Further court battles are expected, and the issue of personal watercraft use is far from being put to rest among those who love the 130-mile-long lake. This was evident on a recent afternoon at Two Rivers Marina, near Fort Spokane. Two boat owners having a conversation on the marina's wooden boardwalk were asked their opinion of personal watercraft. "I hate them. They're noisy," said Robert Wiley, a retiree from Wenatchee. "If they're operated responsibly, they're just fine. The problem is most are irresponsible. Two-thirds of the people running them are drunk. They're usually out here jumping the log booms or racing through my wake." Al Bishop said he often tows a WaveRunner behind his small houseboat. During the 20-month ban, personal watercraft were permitted only on the half of the lake managed by the Spokane and Colville Indian tribes. "If you own them, you love them. If you don't, you hate them," said Bishop, who admitted to being a Jet Ski hater before he tried one and was immediately hooked by the thrill. "Lifting the ban was the best thing they've ever done." The National Park Service banned Jet Skis, WaveRunners, Sea-Doos and all other personal watercraft at most national parks and recreation areas in 2000. Two years later, the National Park Service extended the ban to all parks and recreation areas as part of a court settlement with the Bluewater Network, a San Francisco-based environmental group. The settlement required the agency to conduct an environmental analysis in each park where personal watercraft use will be permitted. When the ban was lifted on June 25, Lake Roosevelt became the sixth national recreation area or seashore to reopen its waters to personal watercraft. Other areas include Lake Mead and Glen Canyon in the desert Southwest, and Assateague Island National Seashore off the coast of Virginia. The National Park Service is expected to issue decisions soon on personal watercraft use in 10 other recreation areas or seashores it manages. To date, none of the studies has upheld a ban on personal watercraft, said Sean Smith, a Spokane native and the public lands director for Bluewater Network. "It's looking more and more like it's predetermined," Smith said. "They're only going through the motions." Smith and members of other environmental groups say further evidence of this can be seen in the Bush administration's fight to continue allowing snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park. "There's plenty of other places to ride these machines," Smith said. "We don't think it's too much to ask that our national parks be protected." Smith contends the agency ignored hundreds of written comments in making its Lake Roosevelt decision. Members of Bluewater Network sent in 1,300 letters, Smith said. According to the National Park Service record of decision, only 702 comments were recorded. National Park Service officials could not explain the discrepancy. "What happened to the rest?" Smith said. Personal Watercraft Industry Association spokesman Jeff Ludwig said the ban was discriminatory. He said personal watercraft are no noisier or dirtier than motorboats, which are permitted at Lake Roosevelt. "We were confident that science would once again rule over bias and confirm than PWC have no unique impact that justifies singling them out for discriminatory bans," Ludwig said, in a prepared statement. More than half of personal watercraft sold today use four-stroke engines that do not require the mixing of gas and oil, according to the Personal Watercraft Industry Association. The newer generation machines are 75 percent cleaner and 70 percent quieter than those sold before 1998. The bans, Ludwig said, are the result of "frivolous accusations made by an extreme anti-access group." The National Park Service decision largely agreed that personal watercraft are no more harmful than other motorboats. The decision expanded no-wake zones and banned personal watercraft use in the Kettle River area, but it allowed the machines to return to the rest of the vast lake. Chief Ranger Dan Mason said the ban didn't make much sense. Personal watercraft are allowed on the tribally managed half of the lake and the machines are often quieter than many of the large speedboats on the lake. "We get equal complaints about what they call cigarette boats, which create a lot of noise," Mason said. "This is a recreation area. As long as (personal watercraft) are not impacting the resource, then I support the lifting of the ban." About 50,000 boats a year are launched into the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, according to a National Park Service survey conducted three summers ago. Less than 5 percent of the boats are personal watercraft. The National Park Service will monitor the use of personal watercraft on the lake, Mason said. The agency also has the ability to issue tickets if federal noise laws are violated – 82 decibels at a distance of 82 feet violates the law. Rangers do not carry sound meters, however. Personal watercraft may be cleaner and quieter, but they continue to draw the ire of many water users. Dave Crettol, boating education coordinator for the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, said the response is largely because of the behavior of those on the watercraft, not the sound of the motor. "They're kind of a water version of Top Gun,' " Crettol said of the riders. "There's still that relationship of that young man just offshore doing things he probably shouldn't be and the size of the bathing suit on shore that he's trying to get the attention of." About 80,000 personal watercraft were sold last year, down from peak sales of 200,000 a decade ago, according to industry statistics. Sales might be slumping, but the machines remain popular for families that want a less-expensive and easier-to-maintain alternative to a motorboat, said Crettol, who owns a personal watercraft capable of carrying three passengers plus camping gear. Education is the only long-term hope for improving the behavior and safety of personal watercraft users, Crettol said. Nationwide, 34 states have boater safety education requirements. Idaho and Washington have no statewide requirements. "You can have a great deal of fun on them and not bother anybody else," he said.