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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion

Powerboat ban needed on lake

The Spokesman-Review

Jim Aucutt has no idea what to do with the monster speedboats causing a commotion on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

The chairman of the Kootenai County Waterways Committee told The Spokesman-Review that he’s heard complaints about the powerboats and his committee has discussed them. Meanwhile, Kootenai County marine deputies have become little more than observers as the speeders blast by them en route to fun in the sun, sort of like Coeur d’Alene’s version of Hazzard County’s lawmen trying to stop Bo and Luke Duke in their General Lee moonshine cruiser.

Marine Sgt. Matt Street receives about a half dozen complaints per week when the approximate 15 racing boats are running. But he and his deputies can do little more than snap photos of the boats and their owners for reference when fielding a complaint. They certainly can’t catch a $250,000 boat capable of zipping through the water of Lake Coeur d’Alene at speeds up to 150 mph and rattling photos and knickknacks on the walls of lakeshore homes.

While people in positions of authority are wringing their hands about the annoyance and danger posed by these lake interlopers, the solution is simple: The powerboats should be banned on Coeur d’Alene and other North Idaho waters. Left unchecked, the boats will cause a serious accident. It’s only a matter of time. Local government officials have a chance to prevent the inevitable tragedy by closing waterways to a craft that was designed for the ocean.

Unless you can afford one of these Cigarette-type boats, it’s hard to understand why anyone would want them on a lake with a 50 mph speed limit. To show off? To get from Coeur d’Alene to Harrison a few minutes faster? Coeur d’Alene native Grant Forest, who owns a 36-foot 2005 Eliminator, which he believes is capable of 190 mph, didn’t shed light on the subject when he told staff writer Erica Curless: “It’s a guy thing. You just need to know you have it.”

A lot of guys would disagree, particularly those who are trying to talk on the lakeshore as Forest’s Eliminator rumbles by.

Lake Coeur d’Alene was too crowded before wealthy individuals began buying the waterfront for investments and second homes and bringing their myriad toys with them. On a summer weekend, the water along the north shore is teeming with swimmers, water toys, personal watercraft, sailboats, windsurfers and canoes. Boats of all sizes, from small ones for fishing to Hagadone Hospitality’s cruise boats, launch regularly from various docks along the lake’s north shore, cramming the water, increasing the hazard to recreationists, and transforming the lake into Idaho’s most heavily used waterway.

No need exists to agitate the problem further by adding speedboats to the mix.

Add the noise factor from the modified engines to the inherent danger posed by the thunder boats, and you have a public nuisance on your hands. The noise may be as big a concern as the boats’ speed. The county should stop the problem before newcomers make it worse.

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