I think we are losing this battle thanks to a few. Here is a memo that was forwarded to me today.
June 4, 2008
To: Fellow Chain O’ Lakes Performance and Thru Transom Exhaust Boaters
From: Chain O’ Lakes Boat Noise Reduction and Boating Safety Initiative Group
Re: Noise, Safety and Speed Reduction Call To Action
As many are aware, there was a tremendous ground swell of activity over the winter months to lobby the various regulatory bodies of the Chain O’ Lakes Waterway System (Chain), in particular the Fox Waterway Agency Board of Directors (Board), to enact a speed limit and other measures designed to address noise pollution, safety and speed concerns of many fellow boaters and shoreline residents; particularly those residents in highly congested locations such as the Johnsburg river area and many other congested and no wake areas. The focus of these efforts centered on trying to establish, at a minimum, a speed limit on areas of the river north of the McHenry dam. Additional proposals, although they did not make it to the debate platform of the formal Waterway Agency meetings, were as far reaching as seeking a total ban of all boats from the Chain O’ Lakes Waterway system that have thru transom exhaust.
Due to the efforts of many of you and the commitments made by the Chain O’ Lakes Boat Noise Reduction and Boating Safety Initiative Group of aggressive education and self–policing, the Board agreed to, at least for now, continue to call for the strict enforcement of existing noise, safety and speed ordinances as its way of addressing constituents’ complaints. This action on the part of the Board allows a window of opportunity for us, as performance and thru transom exhaust boaters, to collectively work together to eliminate the myriad of complaints made to the Board and the Sherriff’s departments on these issues. In rendering this decision , the Board made it abundantly clear that if education and self-policing efforts do not drastically reduce the complaints they receive on these issues, particularly in the Johnsburg and other highly congested and no wake areas, they would have no choice but to enact new speed limit and other restrictive ordinances to address these concerns.
Therefore, it is now time for each of us to do our part to eliminate the root causes of the complaints received by the Board and the Sherriff’s departments regarding noise pollution, safety and speed, particularly in the noted congested and no wake areas. Here’s what we all need to do NOW and throughout this boating season and into the future:
1. Reduce noise pollution – If you have not already done so, get mufflers or other sound reduction equipment installed so that you are in compliance with the existing noise ordinances. Many of us have talked about doing this but we all need to actually do it and use it. And please, ALWAYS run as silent as you can in the noted congestion and no wake areas.
2. Reduce speed and drive safely – Particularly in the congested areas of the Chain, slow down, respect other boaters and shoreline residents and put safety ahead of speed. Please be judicious. There are times to “run” and there are times to slow down. In the congested areas in particular, please slow down. This will lower noise pollution and help address the safety and speed complaints.
3. Spread the message and self police – As noted above, the Board has given us a window of opportunity in the early part of this boating season to prove we can eliminate or significantly reduce noise, safety and speed complaints directed at performance and thru transom exhaust boaters. We must each do our part of self-policing as well as educating and passing the word to our fellow boaters. The old saying of one bad apple can ruin the whole bunch applies here. We all need to do our part individually and then collectively as a group to ask for cooperation and compliance from those that are not.
This boating safety and noise reduction initiative effort began late in the boating season last year. Through all of our efforts, we achieved initial success with a marked improvement in reducing noise, safety and speed complaints, according to the Fox Waterway Board. The furor had subsided. Unfortunately, then came two key occurrences that set us back again. Those two events were the “River Shiver” and then a couple of specific individuals on several occasions running up and down the river at high rates of speed and creating “thunderous” noise that rattled the windows in residents homes along the river (as reported in many complaints from area residents). This re-ignited the furor that led to a call for speed limits and new noise reduction ordinances that we confronted this winter.
The facts are clear at this point. We will not get another chance if we are not successful in addressing and solving the causes of these noise, safety and speed complaints immediately. Throughout the United States, as we have already witnessed in nearby Lake Geneva as well as in the recently passed law in the State of Illinois that requires all boat dealers (both new and used) to equip all boats they sell with mufflers that comply with Illinois law regarding boat noise levels, governing agencies have and continue to institute extremely aggressive laws on safety, speed and noise that have had a dramatic effect on performance and thru transom boaters. Make no mistake, new restrictions can and will happen here if we don’t solve the root causes of the complaints.
Fellow performance and thru transom boaters, let’s work together to preserve the wonderful boating environment we enjoy here on the Chain O’ Lakes Waterway System. We have been given what appears to be the opportunity to preserve the status quo if we collectively work together to solve and eliminate the root causes of these noise, safety and speed complaints received by the Board and other regulatory bodies on the Chain O’ Lakes Waterway System.
Thank you and please pass this message along to any friends or relatives who are performance or thru transom exhaust boaters on the Chain.