A public comment period is now open on an initiative backed by Gov. Rick Snyder to enact federal regulation restricting anchor use by vessels that transit a portion of the Straits of Mackinac.
Gov. Snyder on May 24 approved a temporary emergency state rule prohibiting anchoring in the Straits as a way to protect Michigan’s vital natural resources. No such prohibition was in place prior to the governor’s action.
In signing the emergency directive, Gov. Snyder also said he would work cooperatively with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) on a similar, permanent maritime safeguard in the Straits.
The USCG has posted a proposed rule in the Federal Register designating a regulated navigation area (RNA) in the Straits and it set a Sept. 4 deadline for public comment.
The action would provide for the safety of life and protection of property on the navigable waters near Mackinaw City, the Coast Guard said in its posting. The proposed rulemaking would prohibit people and vessels from anchoring or loitering within the RNA unless authorized by the Captain of the Port of Sault Ste. Marie, or a designated representative.
The RNA is designated as navigable waters of the Straits bounded by longitude 084°20′ W and 085°10′ W, including Grays Reef Passage, the South Channel between Bois Blanc Island and Cheboygan, Michigan, and the waters between Mackinac Island and St. Ignace, Michigan.
Gov. Snyder’s quick protective action in approving the emergency rule came after a vessel’s anchor is suspected of having sliced two of American Transmission Co.’s electrical transmission lines and denting both segments of Enbridge Energy Partners’ Line 5 pipeline at the bottom of the Straits. Gov. Snyder said boats dropping their anchors in the area where there is utility infrastructure could cause severe environmental damage and threatens to disrupt critical energy and communication services between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.
Comments can be submitted using the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov and should include docket number USCG-2018-0563.
Click here to read the Coast Guard’s rulemaking post.