So why were these squeaky clean waterbikes banned from the National Park System? It was the result of a lawsuit filed against the NPS by the environmental group Bluewater Network. One of the conditions of the settlement was that the service would conduct environmental impact studies of waterbikes at the individual parks.
The results may have been less compelling for news outlets bent on dirty laundry, but they proved far more interesting to those with an open mind. Each park concluded that waterbikes should be allowed back in. One by one, pristine riding areas such as Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (Lake Powell), Florida and Mississippi's Gulf Island National Seashore, and Michigan's Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore dropped their bans and once again welcomed waterbikes. In fact, not one park that completed an environmental study has opted to keep the ban in place. It's time to face facts. With their low emissions, ultra-quiet operation, shallow draft, and shielded jet pumps, waterbikes are the ideal boat for getting back to nature.
Want to give it a try? You should.
To find out how it's done, we went to Sam Thomas. His Discovery River Tours (770/493-1792; www.pwctours.com) has been taking folks on waterbike cruises of scenic rivers since 1993. No one knows more about rigging a waterbike for adventure touring than him.
So gear up, choose a spot on the map, then explore Mother Nature with a clear conscience. After all, you'll be aboard her favorite boat. Continued next page...