The state Marine Board heard users of Applegate Lake speak loud and clear Monday night against a proposal to lift boat speed limits on the reservoir to allow speedboats and water skiing. The board should heed those sentiments and leave the 10-mph limit in place, preserving the lake's tradition of quiet, slow-paced recreation.
Supporters of the change, led by an Applegate Valley family, say lifting the limit would increase use of boating facilities, increase use of the lake, decrease congestion at other lakes in the area and boost the Applegate Valley economy.
The primary reason, however, appears to be one family's desire to waterski in their own neighborhood.
"We've wanted to use that lake to ski on forever," family member Kerry Reich told the Mail Tribune. "We literally have to go to California for skiing."
That might be true if waterskiing were not permitted on other nearby lakes, but it is — at Lost Creek Reservoir, Lake of the Woods and Emigrant Lake, to name three.
Applegate Reservoir is "useless as it is now," Reich added.
That might be true, if the only useful purpose of a lake were to provide a surface for waterskiing. The crowd that showed up at Monday night's Marine Board meeting clearly disagreed with that assessment. Opponents of the proposed change include people who like to fish for trout and bass, kayak and swim in open water — without encountering speeding powerboats and jet skis.
The U.S. Forest Service, which manages recreation at Applegate Lake, also opposes changing the 10-mph limit.
Supporters assert that Applegate Lake should accommodate all users — including themselves, obviously. But we see no reason that accommodating those who like to fish, swim and canoe in relative peace and quiet is any less important than opening every possible body of water to high-speed boating.
Waterskiing is available at other local lakes. Without a compelling reason to change 33 years of tradition — a case we don't think has been made — the Marine Board should leave things as they are.