Bill sparks lake access talk

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Should Michigan's inland lakes have limits on when boaters and fishermen can use public access points?

A debate over whether Michigan lakes should have restrictions concerning their hours of public access, and what those restrictions should be, began recently when Michigan State Rep. Jason Sheppard (R-Temperance) introduced House Bill 4362 on March 13.

The legislation, which would set access on a “public inland lake” to between 8 a.m. and sunset, has sparked concern by fishermen, boaters, and others, over what is seen by some as a restriction of their rights.

However, according to Sheppard, who released a March 20 statement regarding his bill, this has all been a misunderstanding.

“I recently introduced legislation that has caused some concern among the boating and fishing communities,” Sheppard stated. “I would like to clarify my intent for House Bill 4362. I have observed over the years that many inland lakes have set their own hours, through DNR rules, for activities such as high-speed boating and water skiing. These activities are prohibited in many lakes from the hours of 6:30 p.m. until 10 a.m. the following day. Many of these rules were adopted in the mid-1960s. Clearly, these hours do not represent today’s families and their schedules.”

He further stated, “I introduced HB 4362 to allow for more time to enjoy on Michigan’s inland lakes—unfortunately, the way the bill was written does the opposite. Please know that I am in the process of drafting alternative language to more clearly attain my goal of making our state’s waters more accessible to all.”

Still, there are a number of Michigan waterways users concerned about any time restrictions due to its affect on fishing and boating. The Boyne City Gazette asked how you feel and here is a random sampling of responses received.


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