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Proposed restrictions on public lakes anger boaters; lawmaker clarifies

By Kylie Ambu/WZZM-TV • Mar 26, 2019 at 7:00 AM

A Michigan House bill proposed earlier this month which regulates boaters’ times on public inland lakes has sparked controversy.

State representatives Jason Sheppard, R-Temperance, and David LaGrand, D-Grand Rapids, co-sponsored the bill, which would make it illegal to operate a “vessel” outside the time period of 8 a.m. through sunset.

This sparked frustration inside the fishing and boating community.

“The best fishing is pre-dawn and post-dusk,” said Dennis Eade, executive director of the Michigan Steelhand & Salmon Fishermen’s Association. “A bill that would restrict access to the water from 8:30 to 5:30 doesn't seem reasonable at all.”

Sheppard agrees and said limiting operation times was never his intention. He said he was actually trying to expand the hours of operation in areas where boaters were plagued with already-tight limitations on public, inland areas.

“I was trying to create some kind of parameter, so it wasn't so restrictive of the 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. situation,” he said. “All the bill was to do was to make it to where, if you're going to have a restriction, you can't restrict it further than the times that were in the bill.”

Sheppard apologized for any confusion he may have caused and says that he will rectify the situation.

"I'm going to correct it with either a substitute or a new bill,” he said.

State officials said that once a bill is proposed, it cannot be retracted; however, the representatives can make amendments. Sheppard said it’s unclear at the moment whether a new bill will be made.

LaGrand could not be reached for comment.

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