Monday, May 13, 2013

Waldo Lake seaplane and powerboat ban passes House

Waldo Lake will likely be free of gas-powered motors, including seaplanes, this summer.

The Oregon House this morning approved Senate Bill 602, which bans all gas-powered motors on both boats and seaplanes from the Lane County waterway, on a 37-20 vote. The bill allows boats powered by electric motors, if they stay under a 10 mph speed limit.

Three Republicans joined every present Democrat in voting for SB 602, which now heads to Gov. John Kitzhaber’s desk. The governor has previously expressed support for the bill.

In practice, SB 602 would directly impact seaplanes, which can now use the waterway, while fortifying the current state Marine Board ban on gas-powered motorboats, first adopted in 2010.

Usage of the isolated, exceptionally clear body of water in the Cascade Range has been the subject of hot debate for years, and many familiar arguments resurfaced in this morning’s House floor debate.

Rep. Paul Holvey, a Eugene Democrat, said that the lake is “unique” and should be granted protections against potential pollution.

Waldo Lake “is the third most pure lake in the world,” he said. “Let’s not take the risk of it moving down that list.”

Motorboat and seaplane enthusiasts can use many other Oregon waterways, SB 602 proponents said.

Rep. Bruce Hanna, a Roseburg Republican, criticized the blanket nature of the ban, which he said completely excludes one group of users and grants a favor to those “who want it all for themselves.”

By allowing electric motors on boats, Hanna said lawmakers were being exclusionary.

“So what we’re saying is, if you have the wherewithal to switch your boat from gas to electric, now you get to use Waldo Lake,” he said.


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