DNR OKs 50-horse motors

Boat length, motor emissions, horsepower proposals up for comment

Posted: Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Department of Natural Resources has accepted the recommendations of a Kenai area advisory board to propose regulation changes to raise motorboat horsepower limits, but has retuned recommendations relating to boat size limitations and motor emissions.

The proposed regulation changes would raise horsepower limits from 35 to 50 horsepower on the Kenai River, as was recommended by the Kenai River Special Management Area Advisory Board. To the board’s proposal to limit boat lengths to 21 feet, however, the DNR added a restriction limiting boat width to 106 inches. Boats larger than the proposed size limitations would be grandfathered in until 2010.

And to comply with federal law, the DNR changed the KRSMA board’s proposal to require all boat motors on the river to comply with 2006 Environmental Protection Agency Standards, to requiring all motors to be either four-stoke or direct fuel injection two-stroke, said Chris Degernes, chief of field operations for the DNR’s Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation.

“(The original proposal) is taking a regulation for motor manufacturers, established under the Clean Air Act, and trying to apply it to users because of water quality problems,” she said. “It’s like a square peg in a round hole.”

Although the state can regulate the types of motors used on its waterways, under federal regulations, it is not allowed to establish standards or other requirements relating to the control of emissions.

To maintain the intent of the board’s original proposal the DNR modified it so that it removes the dirtiest motors from the river without violating federal restrictions.

Four-stroke and direct fuel injected two-stroke motors pollute less than conventional carbureted two-stroke motors because “fuel is injected so that it does not happen when exhaust gases are being expelled, preventing fuel from being exhausted before it can be burned,” Degernes wrote in a DNR director’s decision notice.

“Even with those there’s still some loss of hydrocarbons, but it’s substantially less than with a typically carbureted two-stroke,” she said.

Conventional two-stroke motors pass as much as 20-30 percent of the fuel they use directly into the air and water.

The DNR’s commissioner will make a final decision on whether the regulation changes are adopted after a public comment period and DNR review of those comments.

The DNR may decide to drop one or more of the proposed regulation changes or make minor changes to the proposed changes after the public comment period.

If the commissioner approves regulation changes they will then go to legal advisers for final review and be sent to the lieutenant governor for his signature.

If adopted, regulation changes raising horsepower limits and restricting boat sizes could go into effect as early as spring.

The proposed boat regulation limiting motors to four-stroke and direct fuel injection two-stroke would go into effect in January of 2008.

The DNR will hold a public hearing on the proposed regulations at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Building on Nov. 28 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

For a copy of the proposed regulations call Chris Degernes at 269-8702. Written comments can be sent to Chris Degernes, Chief of Field Operations, Division of Parks and Outdoor recreation, 550 W. Seventh Ave., Suite 1380, Anchorage, AK 99501-3561, e-mailed to Chris_Degernes@dnr.state.ak.us or faxed to 269-8907.

Patrice kohl can be reached at patrice.kohl@peninsulaclarion.comn.com.

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