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Wetlands vs. boats

Newman/Rabson 71552.541 at CompuServe.COM
Tue Feb 9 00:37:50 EST 1993

Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am a CompuServe subscriber, hoping to correspond with Internet
users via email. I am trying to locate individuals or interest
groups concerned with wetlands; a fellow CompuServer "cruised" the
Internet for me and suggested that I contact you.
I serve on the Wetlands Board of Stafford County, VA. Our Board is
the local permitting authority for activities in the county's tidal
wetlands; we are concerned mostly with mixed-vegetation fringe
marshes on relatively small freshwater tidal creeks.
The Board is often presented with applications for activities
(marinas, launching ramps) that we can expect to increase boat
traffic in a given area. We are searching for information that
might help us to answer the following question:
How can one determine, even approximately, the carrying capacity
(in recreational boats) of a given body of water? To put it another
way, How much boat traffic can a given body of water support before
it begins to suffer damage to wetlands and marine systems?
We know in a general way what consequences to expect. I don't mean
catastrophic events like fuel or sewage spills, although they are
certainly a concern. I mean more insidious, chronic effects like
increased wake battering of shorelines and vegetation, or the
effects of sediment resuspension on the marine environment.
We know that beyond a certain point we will start to get damage,
but we have little idea of how close to that point we are. We have
found very few studies that even attempt to deal with the question
- no wonder, really, since there is an immense number of variables:
stream width, bank geometry, soil and sediment types, vegetation
types, natural turbidity, spawning seasons, boating habits, hull
shapes, etc., etc.
Even with the few studies we have found that do relate to areas
similar to ours, it is hard to extrapolate because fine points of
the local situation can make huge differences. And we have found
no discussion at all of some very basic questions - specific plant
communities' susceptibility to damage from increased wakes, for
So it may be a foolish question, or perhaps I should say a futile
one. Nevertheless, if you have any suggestion about how I might
find more information on any aspect of it, I will be very grateful.
George L. Newman
P.O. Box 167
Hartwood, VA 22471
Voice/FAX:     703-752-5135
Email:         71552.541 at compuserve.com

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