Proposed Boat Ban Draws Opposition

March 2006 News

Opposition is mounting against the proposal to ban some boats from nine of Alabama's popular lakes, the National Marine Manufacturers Association said Thursday.


The NMMA says public opposition caused the boat ban bill to be withdrawn from the Senate calendar March 14, however a vote could come anytime before the legislature adjourns at the end of March.


The bill would ban boats longer than 30 feet, 6 inches on Lakes Weiss, Neely Henry, Logan Martin, Lay, Mitchell, Jordan, Harris, Martin and Smith. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Gerald Dial (D-Linneville), was drafted at the request of Georgia developers who plan to begin construction on Lake Harris, according to the NMMA. The bill is also backed by Alabama Power Co.


"Who decides who can and cannot have access to public waters? A wealthy few who own lakefront property and want the Alabama legislature to make these public lakes their own elite country club waters, keeping the public out?," said Monita Fontaine, vice president of government relations for the NMMA, in a statement. "This is a classic exclusionary move. It is one thing to be able to afford lakefront property and the beauty it affords; it is another thing to prohibit Alabama families from boating on 20 percent of their state's waters."


No other state in the nation has a ban like the one introduced in the state legislature. The NMMA points out that if lawmakers are concerned about the environment and the size of wakes, the boat ban will not make a difference. Most boats that would fall under the ban, such as houseboats and sailboats, create little wake.


The bill was approved last week by the state Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee. No public hearings were held, according to the NMMA.


"We call on the elected representatives of the citizens of Alabama to stand up for their constituents, put the brakes on this railroaded legislation, and do the right thing," said Fontaine. "Hold public hearings and let everyone's voices be heard."

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