National Lakeshore to Ban Personal Watercraft

National Lakeshore to Ban Personal Watercraft

by the National Park Service

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore will implement a ban on personal watercraft along its Lake Michigan shoreline effective April 21, 2001.

The decision was made after consideration of the comments contained in the nearly 2,700 letters and e-mails submitted during a 60-day public review and written comment period on the proposal. While not a vote, all but a handful of the comments submitted supported the proposed ban.

Those opposing the ban were not able to demonstrate how the use of personal watercraft could be allowed to continue under the conditions contained in a final rule for managing personal watercraft in the National Park System that was issued last April.

The national lakeshore’s jurisdiction extends 300 feet off the shore of Lake Michigan, except for the area in and next to Indiana Dunes State Park. The prohibition includes the waters offshore of the communities of Beverly Shores, Porter, Portage, Dune Acres and Ogden Dunes. It does not apply to waters adjacent to the City of Gary from Lake/Porter County Line Road west to and including Marquette Park, the Burns/Portage Waterway, or the Port of Indiana.

Under the final rule issued last April, the national lakeshore was given a two-year grace period to determine if the regulated use of personal watercraft could be authorized. The decision had to be based on specific criteria such as the legislation establishing the area and other visitor uses of the area. If the park determined personal watercraft use could continue, special regulations regarding their use were to be developed and finalized following a nationwide public review and comment period. However, if the park did nothing at all, under the final rule the use of personal watercraft would have been prohibited in park waters effective April 21, 2002.

Park managers determined the criteria that would permit the creation of special regulations allowing the use of personal watercraft at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore after April 21, 2002 could not be met. However, rather than wait for the imposition of the automatic ban, park managers chose to propose an April 21, 2001 ban on personal watercraft use in park waters. Other forms of water-based recreation are already regulated in the national lakeshore. There are no designated launching, landing, or overnight mooring sites for motorized watercraft. All watercraft are prohibited from designated swimming areas. State law mandates a non-wake zone for all watercraft up to 200 feet off shore. Other regulations place restrictions on water skiing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing.

National Park Service
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Porter, IN 46304


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