[Tweeters] Water-skiing/Wake-boarding at Green Lake (long, but vital)

ka7mcx at juno.com ka7mcx at juno.com
Fri Sep 26 22:27:32 PDT 2008

Hi, Tweets,
Last night (Thursday) the Seattle Parks Board held a public hearing re discontinuing issuing permits for motorized boating, such as water-skiing, wake-boarding, etc. Although motor sports of all types were permanently prohibited on Green Lake years ago, there is a loophole which allows two such events each year. These permits do not allow events during June, July and August, which means that the two events take place during both the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.
The permits have traditionally been issued to the Lake Samammish Waterski Club. They use two or more powerful boats that both create "wakes" and tow groups of skiers who use these wakes to perform mid-air stunts. They set up and use a public address system, which on Memorial Day could be clearly heard all the way from the Community Center to beyond Duck Island.
While the noise of the boats and the PA announcer is very disruptive to the great majority of those walking around the lake and also to nearby residents, their activities continue to create a far more serious problem; one that should be of concern to everyone reading this.
Starting in April and continuing through May there were at least three floating nests built and used by pied-bill grebes along the one-mile SW shoreline of Green Lake. Many took great pleasure watching these nests being built, maintained, and eventually hosting as many as five eggs. I personally enjoyed watching the ongoing activities at these nests nearly every day in May.
As I walked past the Small Craft Center, it was obvious that wakes (waves) were continually reaching the shoreline. By the time I reached the turtle logs, waves were washing completely over both logs. And all three of the fragile nests had disappeared. Coincidence? I think not!
Speakers at last night's public hearing were limited to two minutes. The first four or five expressed their concerns about waves eroding the shoreline and destroying nests. Perhaps a dozen of the skiers then spent the remainder of the discussion period extolling their activity, discussing their efforts to minimize environmental impact, and emphasizing at great length how water skiing at Green Lake has a long-standing tradition. Each speaker was wearing a tee-shirt created especially for the hearing. Each speaker introduced the following speaker. The dozen or so speakers and their friends soon were cheering and clapping at the end of each turn. The group had clearly organized and orchestrated their participation; by the time this became apparent it was too late for any rebuttal, they overwhelmed and dominated the discussion.
Much of their testimony was what a wonderful sport/hobby they have. There was no one who argued this point. They then produced some engineering studies made on a lake in the Mid-West as evidence that their wakes could not possibly reach shore(!). They ended their testimony by focusing on the long tradition of water skiing on Green Lake. Not once did they even mention the possibility of moving their activity to Lake Samammish or to Lake Washington.
There can be no argument that water skiing can be an enjoyable activity. Or, that there is indeed a history and tradition of doing it at Green Lake. But hydroplane races were an even longer tradition at the lake, as was the original Bite of Seattle and the even longer tradition of Fourth of July fireworks. All of these "traditional" activities were eventually forced by public opinion to move elsewhere, where they have grown and thrived.
The skiers speculated that the missing nests could have been the victims of "dogs, raccoons, etc." They refused to acknowledge that the nests completely disappeared during their event. They emphasized that pied-bill grebes are generally not considered to be an endangered species, as if this justified destroying their nests.
What next?
The Park Board is soliciting written comments on this matter, before forwarding their recommendation to the Parks Superintendent at their next meeting, October 9th. If everyone still reading this lengthy epistle would take just a moment right now to email their concerns for forever ending this intolerable tradition, they could pass along a favorable opinion. Emails should be addressed to: Sandy.Brooks at Seattle.gov
It is significant that most of the skiers who spoke were neither residents, taxpayers, nor voters in the City of Seattle. Board members seemed sensitive to this, so if you are any or all of the above you might emphasize this in your comments.
The grebes will likely continue to inhabit Green Lake. But only in much smaller populations if water skiing is not permanently prohibited.
Thank you,
John Pollock, on behalf of many, many others who regularly visit Green Lake to appreciate and enjoy the birds and to escape much of the constant noise of a busy city.

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