MIAMI, FL, August 30, 2010 - Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is urging boaters, anglers and sailors in the Sunshine State to weigh-in on proposed changes by the National Park Service (NPS) concerning the anchoring and mooring of vessels in Biscayne National Park, Florida. The deadline for comments is September 3.
The National Park Service wants to "reduce damage to park resources, enhance visitor opportunities, increase safety of navigation in the park, and improve the effectiveness of park operations," according to the published proposal. Their preferred plan "would exercise greater control of visitor access to and use of certain areas of the park, and expand access and visitor opportunities in others."
While the proposal includes installing more moorings at various places in the park, the national boat owners group is concerned there is little information on how many will be added, how they will be maintained or paid for. Proposed changes also include restrictions on anchoring. Under the Park Service proposal, boats will only be able to use NPS moorings in some areas, with no anchoring allowed at Stiltsville, Fowey Rocks, Brewster and Star Reefs, Sands Cuts Shoals, Elliott Key Anchorage, Harbor and vicinity, and East of Keys.
Also proposed is a restriction on rafting on NPS moorings (two or more vessels tied side-by-side sharing the same mooring) as well as a reduction or elimination of beaching of boats (landing them ashore).
Additional markers for channels, park boundaries, Featherbed Bank and hazardous areas as well as educational signage and information for visitors is also under consideration.
To see the complete NPS Mooring Buoy and Marker Plan Environmental Assessment, go to:http://www.parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=353&projectID=26660&documentID=35247. To submit your comments go to: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=35247 BoatUS suggests that boaters write directly in the "comments" box, instead of attaching a word document.
Comments can also be mailed with a postmark on or before September 3 to: Biscayne National Park, Attn: Mooring Buoy and Marker EA Comments, 9700 SW 328 Street, Homestead, FL 33033.
"The National Park Service needs to know what waterway users think about their plan," said BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs Margaret Podlich. "We encourage boaters to provide specific information about how your family uses the park, as well as any questions that you have about the proposal."
"We also encourage you to share your comments with your elected representatives in Washington, DC," added Podlich. To contact them go to www.BoatUS.com/gov/contact.asp.