Coast Guard Drops Plans for Live Fire Training

Chicago, IL, December 18, 2006-In an important victory for boaters across the Great Lakes, the Coast Guard has withdrawn its proposal to establish 34 permanent zones for live machine-gun training on the water.

Opposition to the plan was formidable. The Great Lakes Boating Federation, the advocacy voice for 4.3 million boaters, over eighty mayors and more than a dozen environmental groups all asked for an end-or substantial changes, at least-to the project, which would have sent 430,000 lead bullets raining into the water and militarized the tranquil waters of one of our greatest and most pristine national resources.

While the Coast Guard did plan to make ship-to-shore announcements of training activities, boaters and many others were wary about the effectiveness of the warning system and were concerned about the safety of boaters. With no contingency warning system in place, there seemed to be no way to ensure boaters' safety in the event of a real threat.

The Coast Guard began live-fire training earlier this year, conducting 24 exercises before a public outcry forced a suspension. Since then, the Coast Guard has held a number of public hearings in order to consider the concerns and worries of citizens. Complaints, resolutions in opposition, even lawsuits followed.

"Boaters remain respectful of the need for increased security measures to protect our waters and our shoreline," said F. Ned Dikmen, Chairman of the Great Lakes Boating Federation, "but we are relieved that this proposal has been repealed. It's good to see that the Coast Guard is responsive to the concerns of boaters and that the Great Lakes basin, which has been a tranquil haven for generations, will not be militarized."

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