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Boating hours change bill withdrawn

April 2, 2019

House Bill 4362 would have limited boating hours on Michigan lakes but it has been withdrawn.

But not before creating considerable consternation among boaters and anglers.

The amendment was co-sponsored by 56th Dist. State Rep. Jason Sheppard, R-Temperance, and 75th Dist. State Rep. David LaGrand, D-Grand Rapids. According to a post from Sheppard on his Facebook page, his intent was the opposite of the wording introduced. The bill had been assigned to the Government Operations Committee Sheppard chairs.

“I have observed over the years that many inland lakes have set their own hours, through DNR rules, for activities such as high-speed boating and water skiing,” Sheppard wrote. “These activities are prohibited in many lakes from the hours of 6:30 p.m. until 10 a.m. the following day. Many of these rules were adopted in the mid-1960s. Clearly, these hours do not represent today’s families and their schedules.

“I introduced HB 4362 to allow for more time to enjoy on Michigan’s inland lakes—unfortunately, the way the bill was written does the opposite. Please know that I am in the process of drafting alternative language to more clearly attain my goal of making our state’s waters more accessible to all.”

101st District State Rep. Jack O’Malley, R-Lake Ann, said HB 4362 was dead on arrival. “We’re still getting calls on it,” O’Malley said Friday afternoon, adding people should know it is not going to become law as introduced.

But don’t think the controversy is over if Sheppard reintroduces a bill instead seeking to end quiet time watercraft controls on lakes, often small ones or designated areas in larger lakes.

Several members of the public commenting on Sheppard’s post opposed what Sheppard said he intends to do.

Steve Metzer wrote, “Clearly you do not fish. ‘Quiet’ hours like this on many lakes allows the high-speed users during the hottest part of the day and the pleasure boaters and fishermen to be out early and late in the day. These restrictions prevent conflicts between incompatible uses. You are attempting to address something that isn’t an issue, and doing it quite poorly as evidenced by the reaction.”

Dan Zeeff noted, “A great example of an issue that can be decided locally, not statewide. Why force all of the thousands of lake communities in Michigan to adhere to some arbitrary limits set by politicians who don’t live near them?”

Michigan has more than 11,000 inland lakes, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. There are more than 1,300 public boating access sites and more than 80 harbors and marinas throughout the state administered by state, county, and local units of government.

The following is a list, from the MDNR, of special local watercraft controls in place in Mason County. High speed boating prohibitions on this list state it is unlawful to “operate a motorboat at high speed, which means a speed at or above which a motorboat reaches a planing condition, or tow or otherwise assist in the propulsion of a person on water skis, water sled, surfboard or other similar contrivance.”

FORD LAKE, Sheridan Township, prohibits high-speed boating and water skiing from 6:30 p.m. to 10 a.m. of the following day. In effect since May 15, 1968

GOOSENECK LAKE, Branch Township, Slow-no wake speed limit. It is unlawful to exceed a slow-no wake speed on Gooseneck Lake. Effective since Sept. 14, 1998.

GUN LAKE, Sherman and Free Soil townships, high speed boating ban from 6:30 p.m. to 10 a.m. of the following day. In effect since Nov. 15, 1967

HACKERT LAKE, Amber Township, high-speed boating ban from 6:30 p.m. to 10 a.m. of the following day. It has a provision stating “The hours should be 7:30 p.m. to 11 a.m. of the following day when Eastern Daylight Savings Time is in effect.” In effect since July 14, 1997.

HAMLIN LAKE controlled speed zones, in effect since Aug. 15, 1967, Hamlin Township. No operator of any motorboat shall exceed a slow — no wake speed on the designated waters:

• South Bayou east of the Lake Shore Drive bridge over the bayou.

• Middle Bayou, east of the Lake Shore Drive bridge over the bayou.

• Indian Pete Bayou.

• SABLE RIVER OUTLET westerly of a line beginning at the extreme northernmost point of Block 151 of the map of the Second Addition to Piney Ridge resort, a subdivision of the NW ¼ of the NE ¼ and the S ½ of the NE ¼ of section 20, T19N, R18W, as recorded in Liber 1 of Plats, page 45, Mason county records: Thence across a bay of Hamlin lake on bearing 356º true a distance of 650 feet more or less to a point on a small island in Sable river outlet of Hamlin lake, thence continuing on said bearing 356º true, a distance of 650 feet more or less to the southerly extremity of a larger island in said Sable river outlet located easterly and adjacent to Lost lake in the southerly portion of section 17, T19N, R18W, thence along the easterly shoreline of said island a distance of 1,140 feet more or less to the northerly extremity of said island, thence northwesterly from said point a distance of 425 feet more or less to the northerly end of a foot bridge located along the east side of Lost lake at the outlet of said lake on the west shoreline of Hamlin lake, at a point near the east and west quarter line of section 17, T19N, R18W.

LONG LAKE, Branch Township, high-speed boating prohibited from 6:30 p.m. to 10 a.m. the following. In effect since May 15, 1969.

PÈRE MARQUETTE RIVER, FROM INDIAN BRIDGE DOWNSTREAM, slow, no wake speed limit in place from Indian bridge, downstream to the north line of section 26, town 18 north, range 18 west. In effect since Feb. 15, 1974.

PÈRE MARQUETTE LAKE — Slow — no wake speed limit in place on the lake and the connecting channel to lake Michigan, Ludington, Père Marquette Township, from the outer breakwater entrance to a line beginning from the westernmost portion of Yacht Club Peninsula, thence west to the nearest possible shore and in effect since Aug. 3, 1988.

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