The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission agreed at its December meeting to propose a permanent rule to ban the practice of "skipping" snowmobiles at high speed over open water. The proposed rule is open to public comment until Feb. 22, 2002.
"The agency recommended that the Commission take this action because the practice of 'water skipping' on public waters may be dangerous to the individual and to the general public, and harmful to the environment," said Beate Galda, chief of FWP’s law enforcement division. "The proposed ban would apply only to publicly accessible waters and would still allow snowmobiles to make short crossings over water in order to continue on winter trails."
In water skipping, a rider takes a snowmobile down a bank or boat ramp into a large body of water at full speed, skimming across the water’s surface. If the machine slows down or stalls, it quickly sinks. The question of banning water skipping came up last summer after a man drowned attempting to run a snowmobile across a reservoir.
Temporary emergency restrictions on water skipping put in place by the Commission last August expired in early December.
The formal rulemaking notice will be available in January. To request a copy, contact the FWP Enforcement Division, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701 or call 406-444-2452. Public meetings will be held in Anaconda on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2002 at 7 p.m. at the AOL Hall, 106 Cherry St.; and in Great Falls on Feb. 19, 2002 at 7 p.m. at the FWP regional headquarters building, 4600 Giant Springs Road.