Groups Float River Regulations

Dnr Planning Controls On South, Magothy Rivers

May 20, 1991|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

State officials trying to come up with a set of regulations governing the Magothy and South rivers met the people who would be most affected by the rules Saturday, and came away with a stack of ideas ranging from the placement of buoy markers to imposing speed limits.

TheBoating Administration, a division of the Department of Natural Resources, will compile all opinions and suggestions into a comprehensiveplan for a public hearing scheduled in December.

Everything from setting up courses for water skiers to the use ofjet skis and stricter enforcement of boating regulations was discussed during the all-day workshop that attracted about 100 people.

Itwas a chance for the public to tell the state officials who will be drafting the new rules what needs to be done.

No consensus was made or even attempted among the several small groups that met for hourstrying to come up with their own plans.

Some groups were heavily into regulations, and suggested speed limits for parts or all of the rivers. Other groups took a hands-off approach and suggested leaving most of the existing rules in place.

The rules, scheduled to take affect in April 1992, come one year after the state established rulesgoverning the Severn River.

That management plan, which imposed speed limits and set aside special swimming, rowing and competitive water skiing zones, was the first comprehensive set of regulations established in Maryland.

It was hailed by some as the "best thing that's ever happened to the Severn River," while others charged that it had gone too far or hadn't gone far enough. The most controversial part of the rules governing the Severn dealt with the speed limit of40 mph on the main stem.

That argument was repeated Saturday. One of the groups discussing the South River decided not to even try and reach a consensus on the issue.

"I think there is one subject that we cannot do and that is daytime speed limits," said Maurice Pollard, a Glebe Creek resident and a sailboat operator. "We just don't know howto handle it."

Nearly all 10 of the group members agreed that something must be done to improve safety, but weren't sure if establishing a speed limit was the answer.

"The problem is not the responsible boaters," said Ann Riel, who lives along Selby Bay. "There are three or four idiots on that river."

Dennis Flynn, a member of the Chesapeake Bay Power Boaters Association, said speed limits are unfair and cautioned against what happened on the Severn River. "They just dreamed numbers up," he said. "They dreamed them up with no regard to things like shoreline erosion. I don't want that to happen here."

The group did agree, however, to recommend a speed limit of 40 mph during the nighttime hours.

Other groups, however, chose not to shy away from the issue. Edie Stewart's group recommended imposing a 7 mph limit on the South River around the Riva Bridge, a 40 mph limit during the day on the main stem and a 23 mph limit at night.

Most of the tributaries on both rivers are currently regulated to a 7 mph limit on weekends and holidays.

The same type of discussions occurredon the Magothy River, with many groups recommending a course be set up for water skiers on the northern section.

One group recommendedestablishing three speed zones, 7 mph at the mouth, 40 mph at nights, weekends and holidays on the central section and 40 mph at all times on the upper portions.

Many people were concerned about enforcement, especially on the South River where they said only three DNR police officers are stationed.

"You gave us a lot of diverse recommendations," said Jody Roesler, the planning chief for the Boating Administration. "We will go over everything carefully and try to put together a draft plan by the end of summer."

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