Waldo Lake motor ban goes to Kitzhaber for signature

Waldo Lake motor ban goes to Kitzhaber for signature
Waldo Lake (photo courtesy Wikipedia).

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The state House voted Monday to ban motorboats and seaplanes from Waldo Lake, a popular recreational spot in the Cascade Range southeast of Eugene.

The 37-20 vote sends the bill to Gov. John Kitzhaber, and he will sign it, said spokesman Tim Raphael. The Senate passed the bill in March with bipartisan support.

The bill prohibits motors on Waldo Lake, which includes a ban on seaplanes. It has an exception for boats powered by electric motors if they stay under 10 mph.

The legislation reaffirms a rule imposed by the Oregon State Marine Board. The agency attempted to ban seaplanes but didn't have the jurisdiction to do so. Seaplanes currently have limited access to land on and take off from the lake.

The bill is the culmination of more than a decade of debate among members of the public and state agencies on whether gas-powered engines should be allowed on the lake. It is one of the largest natural lakes in Oregon and is considered one of the purest in the world.

Long-time advocates of the ban include kayakers and canoeists, among others, who say motorboats and seaplanes ruin the quiet, serene Waldo Lake experience. They also say the ban is needed to protect the lake against environmental degradation from pollution and invasive species.

"The risk of pollution from float planes and motorized use of boats on that lake is a risk that Oregonians should not take in preserving this pristine location, these clear and pure waters, for future generations to enjoy," said Rep. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene.

Opponents say boats and planes have been permitted on the lake for decades without accidents or spills.

"I look at this as just one more way you take away from Oregonians some of the places that they have historically enjoyed and restrict it to those who want it all for themselves," said Rep. Bruce Hanna, R-Roseburg.

Despite their differences, supporters and opponents spoke of the lake poignantly— and sometimes poetically.

Hanna said he has visited Waldo Lake since he was a young boy and called it "one of Oregon's most beautiful places." Holvey said the lake is a sanctuary where "the wild quiet provides a refuge of peace from our hectic world."

The ban on motors will go into effect when the governor signs the bill.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.