Friday, January 27th, 2023
Friday, January 27th, 2023

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Proposed Apostle Islands rule change would allow limited winter motor use

Correspondent

Ashland, Wis. Members from at least two Chequamegon Bay
sportfishing clubs are generally pleased with proposed federal
regulation changes to a rule that limits use of snowmobiles, ATVs
and ice augers within one-quarter mile of islands within the
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (AINLS).

The National Park Service brought the proposed special
regulations which will allow use for “specific purposes on the
frozen surface of Lake Superior” to meetings in Bayfield and
Ashland for public scrutiny last week. Members of the Apostle
Islands Sports Fishing Association and the Northern Rod and Gun
Club voiced approval of the new language, which recognizes
traditional use, and puts AINLS in line with other parks throughout
the country.

“Every other park that has water has already done this,” said
AINLS superintendent Bob Krumenaker. “So we’re in the back of the
line on this one, not in the front of the line.”

If approved for the Apostle Islands, only the waters surrounding
Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park will remain off-limits to
snowmobiles, Krumenaker added. But unlike the Apostles, Isle Royale
is not only closed in the winter, it’s not easily accessible for
snowmobiles or ATVs from the mainland.

Current regulations created in 1983 prohibit the operation of
snowmobiles and ATVs within a one-quarter mile radius of the
lakeshore’s 21 islands and a small portion of the park’s mainland
shoreline. However, enforcement of that rule had not been a
priority, and had not even been common knowledge among ice
fishermen until this past winter when Ashland fisherman Rollie
Peterson, a Conservation Congress delegate and veteran sportsman,
was issued a warning for riding within one-quarter mile of Basswood
Island.

The incident led to a series of meetings with sportfishing
groups and local National Park Service officials. As a result,
AINLS chief law enforcement officer Greg Zeman, AINLS official Jim
Nepstad, and Krumenaker crafted the new set of draft regulations in
a relative short amount of time. It is these same draft regulations
that the NPS revealed last week.

The proposed regulations are only the start of a long process of
bureaucratic approvals that could take as long as two years.
However, Krumenaker is hoping the strong public support shown at
the meetings will convince officials at the Midwestern headquarters
in Omaha, Neb., and in Washington D.C. to approve the regulations
in a shorter time span.

After the U.S. Department of Interior legal staff reviews the
regulations and submits them to the Office of Management and
Budget, and other agency officials analyze the “legalese,” another
public comment period opens before final publication in the Federal
Register and possible final approval.

“I’m not going to promise you a timetable that I cannot
deliver,” Krumenaker told a group of fishermen in Ashland on
Thursday, May 6.

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