boating

Miami’s Biscayne National Park won’t be open to boaters during Columbus Day Weekend

 
 
Ahead of the busiest Friday through Monday of the year in Miami’s backyard underwater park, Superintendent Brian Carlstrom said park rangers — backed up by federal, state and local law enforcement officers — will ask boaters who stop and hang out to leave. Diving and snorkeling also are prohibited.
Ahead of the busiest Friday through Monday of the year in Miami’s backyard underwater park, Superintendent Brian Carlstrom said park rangers — backed up by federal, state and local law enforcement officers — will ask boaters who stop and hang out to leave. Diving and snorkeling also are prohibited.

scocking@miamiherald.com

Like the rest of its counterparts around the country, Biscayne National Park is closed because of the federal government shutdown — but not if you want to fish, boat through on your way somewhere else, or seek shelter in a storm.

But the thousands of powerboaters who normally gather in park waters over the upcoming Columbus Day weekend to anchor, raft, play music, dance and drink will not be welcome.

Ahead of the busiest Friday through Monday of the year in Miami’s backyard underwater park, Superintendent Brian Carlstrom said park rangers — backed up by federal, state and local law enforcement officers — will ask boaters who stop and hang out to leave. Diving and snorkeling also are prohibited.

“If folks start showing up, we’ll encourage them to go someplace else,” Carlstrom said. “We’ll be monitoring the area around Elliott Key, where they raft up very closely. If you don’t leave, you are subject to fines. Bottom line: We don’t want people going out there hurting themselves or others as a result of theirs or others’ negligence.”

Carlstrom said officers will be patrolling the waters and stationed at Black Point and Homestead Bayfront marinas, which are gateways to the park, to inform boaters that the park is closed. He declined to say how many officers would be deployed to handle the anticipated crowds.

Even before the federal shutdown on Oct. 1, Biscayne National Park tried to discourage Columbus Day weekend revelry. The park issued a press release on Sept. 18 urging boaters to “reconsider” gathering during “the most dangerous boating weekend in the park.” Officials cited six deaths and numerous injuries over the past decade, plus damage to park resources from vessel groundings and litter. Violators of boating under the influence and other laws could face fines of more than $5,000 and up to six months in jail, officials warned.

Boaters turned away from the park this weekend could end up at other popular gathering spots to the north, including “Nixon Beach” or Mashta Point — a sandbar near Key Biscayne — or Monument Island in Molloy Channel off Miami Beach. Spokesmen for the U.S. Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said they would be ready if that happens.

“We have plenty of crews and plenty of boats to get the job done,” said Coast Guard Chief Ryan Doss.

Added FWC officer Jorge Pino: “We’re going to have an adequate number of officers out there with whatever may arise with regard to boating safety.”

Meanwhile, the 2013 Columbus Day Regatta, a long-running sailboat race with some 80 competitors, will start as scheduled Saturday morning in Biscayne Bay, according to regatta chairman Mark Pincus.

“The regatta does not go to the park, so it is not affected by the closure,” Pincus said.

He added the only difficulties might be heavy traffic from powerboaters exiting the park wandering onto the course while sailboats are racing.

Since the federal shutdown, several fishing guides who regularly escort their customers to catch bonefish, permit and other species in the park report no interference from rangers.

“I haven’t seen law enforcement,” captain Bob Branham said. But he said he’s worried his business could suffer if the government shutdown goes on much longer.

Said Branham: “The more stories that get out about it, the more people just might not come.”

Read more Outdoors stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
A cheetah and her offspring at White Oak near Yulee.

    WILDLIFE | White Oak Conservation center

    Exotic, endangered animals thrive at Wild Oak preserve

    The North Florida facility that rehabilitated a young, injured Florida panther has a long tradition of helping threatened and endangered species.

  • outdoors

    South Florida fishing report: April 16, 2014

    Kim Mills of the Kelley Fleet reported all of their day boats have had catches of sailfish, dolphins, blackfin tuna, bonitos and cobia. All of the catches were made outside the outer reef. Captain Wayne Conn from the party boat Reward out of Miami Beach Marina reported on a recent night bottom fishing trip his 40 customers landed close to 400 yellowtail, mangrove and mutton snappers.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">Tribute: </span>Runner’s shoes are laid out in a display titled, ‘Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial,’ in the Boston Public Library.

    In My Opinion

    Linda Robertson: Runners remember Boston Marathon tragedy

    Amber Seidle-Lazo had run 26 miles of the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon when she was stopped by police one year ago on April 15 and told the finish line was closed.

Get your Miami Heat Fan Gear!

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category