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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of June 18 - 24, 2003


Jet Ski ban awaits approval of signs

Express Staff Writer

Enforcement of Blaine County’s ban on personal watercraft on Pettit and Alturas lakes in the Sawtooth Valley will be delayed until the U.S. Forest Service approves county signs warning violators of the prohibition. Motorboats were banned on another nearby body of water, Perkins Lake.

Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling said the wording for the signs has been submitted to the Forest Service, but he couldn’t speculate on when the Forest Service would approve the signs.

Although the lakes are located in the Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho counties have control over laws affecting forest lands and waters.

The Blaine County ordinance took effect June 4. Violations on conviction carry a $300 fine or six months in jail or both, equivalent to many misdemeanor fines, such as assault.

Banned from the lakes are what is generically known as "jetskis," although the name Jetski is a trademark of Yamaha.

In the ordinance, which was written and adopted after public hearings, personal watercraft are termed "a proven safety hazard to others as well as personal watercraft users" and are banned "to assure the preservation and protection of the natural, scenic, historic, pastoral and wildlife values contributing to public recreation."

Opponents of the ordinance testified at hearings that only 10 to 15 Jet Ski owners use the lakes during the summer.

Enforcing the ordinance also will be a challenge for the sheriff’s department. Femling said he has no budget for a deputy assigned to police the lakes, and must rely on off-duty deputies. Because of the Galena Summit, radio and cell phone communication between the lakes and the Sheriff’s Department in Hailey is nonexistent.


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