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Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Jet Ski Alert

The Gulf Islands National Seashore is being petitioned to open its waters to personal water craft (jet skis). The Superintendent of the park is taking comments via e-mail and snail mail until the end of February. They will then decide if they should allow PWC's with restrictions, without restrictions, or maintain the ban.

The American Canoe Association is asking us to send comments to the Superintendent urging him not to change the present ban. The Superintendent's e-mail address is Snail mail: Superintendent, National Park Service, Gulf Island National Seashore, Att: PWC Scoping Comments, 1801 Gulf Breeze Parkway, Gulf Breeze, FL 32563.

This is a national issue, so please feel free to pass this information on to anyone you think might be interested in supporting the ban.


A word of caution about clearing deadfall, from our friend and club member Tom Fink, who is an expert on aquatic insect life:

Just a quick note and comment about logjams (deadfalls, etc.). Please let paddlers know that a moderate amount of logjams are very beneficial for aquatic insects and fish in our streams. Logjams are especially important in the southeast where floating logs are the ecological equivalent of rocks. Many species of mayflies, stoneflies, megalopterans, dipterans, and other aquatic insects and crustaceans really need these logs for habitat ("homes"). Often in our southeastern streams many aquatic insects are limited by hard material to hang onto and to feed off of. Think of our rivers prior to stream side houses and zillions of boats. Logjams were much much much much much more common than now!!!!! Therefore populations of aquatic insects are certainly impacted compared to historical levels.

These insects of course are important as fish food. Also the logjams provide cover and shade for fish.

So when you start chainsawing in a river, do it with moderation. Leave the logjams by the side of the river where they are not in the way of boat traffic. Try to leave in place the large logs which have lots of surface area, pits, and are decaying. These old logs are especially good aquatic insect habitat. Leaving as many logjams as possible will reward you with a more ecologically healthy, interesting, and dynamic river. In some "sterilized" (all logjams removed, or riparian land cleared) rivers "planting" logjams would be beneficial.


When I e-mailed our thanks back to Tom for this useful and timely information, I noted that when we've "cleared" deadfall before, we have cut a gap in a fallen log near the bank just wide enough for kayaks and canoes, and not wide enough for power boats. :-) We thought we were being selfish, but it sounds from Tom's e-mail like we were actually doing the right thing for the river itself!

We are lucky to have so many people in our club who know so much about so many different aspects of our area waters.