Letters to the Editors
Quotes about airboats full of inaccuracies
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 19, 2002
Editor: Re: Airboaters seek equality, May 10 Times:
Nice article. I'm very happy staff writer Jeffrey Solochek wrote a fair and balanced story on the issue.
A few comments. Adrian Kilby of the task force made many statements that Solochek quoted. Many of Mr. Kilby's statements are inaccurate, and I wish to address those.
Airboats do not "rip up sea grass" as an outboard motor does. What happens with airboats on needle grass is similar to a car on bahia grass. With repeated use the current grass stops growing. In many cases, with seasonal use of an airboat trail, the root system is still intact and the area quickly revegetates.
As for "illegally made trails," needle grass is not a protected flora. To the best of my knowledge, there are no state, federal or local laws prohibiting riding on needle grass. I'll agree it may not be in the best interest of an ecosystem to run over it needlessly, and may be in need of monitoring, but it's not illegal.
The article also stated that the panel recommended the banning of airboats crossing roadways. I heard the panel suggest to have designated roadway crossings if needed. The "ban" would cover any roadway other than a "designated crossing."
I'll add that long before massive development occurred on the Hernando County coast, airboats were running the marsh and enjoying the resource. This has been occuring for more than 50 years. I had the impression a few folks feel we are destroying the beauty of the area. Hearing comments such as "pristine area" and "beautiful scenery" does not allude to 50 years of abuse.
In light of this development, as long-term resource users, airboaters have banded together, forming clubs and associations to better become stewards of the resource. Most of the clubs and organizations involving airboats are conservation-based, dedicated to preserving the natural flora and fauna through education, service and action.
At the most recent coastal cleanup, the West Coast Airboat Club collected more than a ton of trash from the Pasco/Hernando coastline. The only vessels I recall seeing out there were airboats.
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