Friday, October 20, 2006

Live ammo on Great Lakes - where is the Chicago press on this one?

The Coast Guard has been firing live ammo in 34 "safe zones" on the Great Lakes, including Lake Michigan. Due to public outcry, they have suspended this little operation to hold public hearings. The treaty with Canada, that prevents militarization of the Great Lakes, and has been in place since after the War of 1812, was quietly changed to allow the Coast Guard to mount guns on their boats.

From the stories I've read, Canada has agreed to look at it as a law enforcement maneuver rather than a military one. We are supposedly being protected from smugglers and terrorists. The live fire zones are within 5 nautical miles of shore.

A quick search using several search engines, turned up no coverage by our newspapers. Granted this doesn't mean there was no coverage, just that my search terms "great lakes live ammo" showed nothing, nothing but Canadian newspapers, boaters organizations, and Great Lakes organizations.

Here's a sampling of what the Canadians said:

Canadian Press

Published: Friday, September 01, 2006

MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) - The U.S. coast guard is giving the public an extra 60 days to comment on a proposal to conduct target practice on the Great Lakes with live ammunition, a member of Congress said Thursday.

The comment period was to expire Thursday. But U.S. Representative Pete Hoekstra, a Republican, said the coast guard agreed to extend it.

The plan calls for establishing 34 permanent zones over open water a few kilometres from the Great Lakes shorelines for the shooting exercises. Crew members would fire at floating targets from cutters and small boats using machine-guns, rifles and 9mm guns, Lanier said.

Some of the zones are near recreational spots and areas crisscrossed often by pleasure, charter and fishing boats, such as Grand Haven, Marquette, Sault Ste. Marie and the Keweenaw Peninsula. Most are near coast guard stations.

"The coast guard has provided remarkably little information about their proposal," Anne Woiwode, director of the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club, told the Detroit Free Press newspaper.

"If they do this during the fishing season, I think it would be a recipe for problems," Jim Fenner, president of the Ludington Charter Boat Association, told the Muskegon Chronicle newspaper.

Car ferries that operate in summer from Ludington and Muskegon to Wisconsin would be in live-fire zones.

Notice this is heavily covered in the Michigan papers.

For a look at the map of lower Lake Michigan the Coast Guard offers a drawing of the locations of the zones. One issue that came up at a meeting in Grand Haven, Mi, that was attended by Neighbors for Peace, was the problem with lead polluting the water from the bullets. No major EPA study was done, nor was the Army Corps of Engineers involved. The Coast Guard did an internal study that determined it wouldn't be a problem.

Apparently the federal government has not yet realized that fresh water will be a scarce resource in the near future and we happen to be sitting on a great deal of it, and they want to pollute it.

The hearing for our part of the Lake is in Waukegan on November 1 and begins with an open house at 4pm. From 5:30 to 8 is the public meeting. Participants will have to 2 minutes to comment. This is not a question and answer session. Do you think maybe they don't want us to come?








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At November 02, 2006 9:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coast Guard plans questioned
Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn Wednesday expressed environmental and boater safety concerns over the U.S. Coast Guard's proposal to create 34 live fire weapons training zones on Lake Michigan and other Great Lakes. While Quinn refrained from calling the plan "overkill" as Alliance for the Great Lakes President Cameron Davis did, he said residents should let their voices be heard by speaking up about ''what is best for our waters'' before Nov. 13 -- the last day of the official comment period for the proposal. The Coast Guard currently does minimal training in the waters, but the proposed tri-annual training practices could pump as much as 6,900 pounds of lead and 2,800 pounds of copper in the Great Lakes, Quinn said. He asked people to submit comments at www.cleanwater.il.gov.

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