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The Disappearance of a Slalom Site

MISkierMISkier Posts: 2,659 Mega Baller
Our ski club is experiencing the latest in the threat to water skiing. After the DNR changed the agreement we had with them regarding the use of a pond in a state recreation area, we relocated to another private lake. That lake, in turn, needed some dredging to take care of some safety issues and increase usability, but we have been unsure how to remedy that with the likely concerns the DNR and DEQ will have with some cattails and other wetland characteristics in the portion of the lake needing some work. We skied it for one summer, but the concerns over one particular area of the lake forced us to look elsewhere until we could resolve it.

We were fortunate to obtain a lease at Placid Waters - the ski community in Allendale, MI. The developers have had a difficult time selling property there. There were some issues with the design/layout of the homesites, some restrictions on docks/lifts, some bad timing with the real estate crash after 2006/2007/2008, and a few other issues. There were 6 lakes planned. Only 3 were finished before the project stopped. Only a few houses were built. The developers asked our club what could be done to the property to make it more appealing to buyers and were genuinely interested in our opinions.

Now, the developers have a plan to reconfigure the entire development. Ironically, they will address one of the issues we mentioned to them - lot size and lot depth. Unfortunately, their solution removes the peninsula between lake one and lake two, adds fill to the shore of each property, and also shortens the combined lake. There will be no slalom course on the combined lake. Lake 3 will be expanded into a 50 acre "square". There will be many more lots now than were planned for the original development. The new plan is marketing towards, you guessed it, wakeboarders, jet skiers, pontoons, fishing boats, etc. There probably will be water skiing there as well, just not on a slalom course and likely with substantial traffic. I don't blame the developers. The skier/buyer population didn't materialize and the developers need to recoup their investment.

The Michigan State tournament will see its final appearance there this July. Our club is hosting it and the developers generously agreed not to begin the changes until after the tournament. They will begin to drain the lakes immediately after the tournament to begin the reconfiguration and we will be done skiing there. The local college team that also shared a lease there will be done as well.

The club is looking to try to return to our original location in the state recreation area. We were never banished - they just changed the course permit to require us remove the buoys every night. In a lake with no visibility for diving, that was seemingly unworkable. We will also look into other options or sites, including the remediation of issues at the other lake needing the dredging. Personally, I belong to another club at a lake that has none of these issues, is purpose-built, owned by a skier for the purpose of having a club, and is much closer to my home. But, I don't like the loss of the other club site or the impact to my friends there. I worry about a trend of disappearing private water, stringent regulations, and our participation as a ski community in supporting our sport enough to ensure the proper facilities/locations remain viable.
The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
Skoot1123tjm
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Comments

  • lpskierlpskier Posts: 2,611 Mega Baller
    Our state is adopting a "remove the buoys when not in use" rule for all new permits. They see it as a safety issue. Yet they require that permit holders allow all comers to use the course if they want. Does this sound inconsistent to anyone but me?
    John Wilkins- Si non pro sanguine quem ludus ne. #iskiconnelly
  • Onside135Onside135 Posts: 417 Crazy Baller
    @lpskier…what defines in use? May-Sept…Pull them out the rest of the year?
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 2,659 Mega Baller
    @Onside135, I also have a permit for a public lake in Northern Michigan. The buoys must be removed each night from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Between Labor Day and the next Memorial Day, they can stay continuously. During the summer Memorial Day to Labor Day period, a ski day is defined as an hour before sunrise until an hour after sunset each weekday. On Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays in the period from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the buoys can only be installed from an hour before sunrise until noon.
    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
  • oldjeepoldjeep Posts: 3,437 Mega Baller
    Makes sense, they are a navigation hazard in the dark
    Chuck P
    Not a mechanic but I play one at home
  • RAWSkiRAWSki Posts: 642 Crazy Baller
    For your site in the recreation area have you considered a 'wally sinker' course.
    This would seem like a good solution if you can not convince the DNR to let you leave it up all the time. Some tanks of air or or small compressor, and without other traffic there shouldn't be many issues once it's set up.
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 2,659 Mega Baller
    We have discussed multiple retractable course designs and it is not totally without other traffic. There may be some fisherman in that location, it also has a fair amount of weeds, and is only about 8 feet deep on average. The WallySinker really needs more depth to be set up properly, is prone to damage from fish hooks, and may be easily tangled in the weeds during operation. We may have to create a custom retractable design, but the weeds would continue to be an issue. It will be a very challenging resolution to the problem.
    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
    tjm
  • RAWSkiRAWSki Posts: 642 Crazy Baller
    Got ya, yes that is a problem, the best sinking courses I have seen in Michigan are in lakes without many weeds, old gravel pits with plenty of depth.
  • lpskierlpskier Posts: 2,611 Mega Baller
    @oldjeep I take it you are being sarcastic. Just like me!
    John Wilkins- Si non pro sanguine quem ludus ne. #iskiconnelly
  • lpskierlpskier Posts: 2,611 Mega Baller
    @onside 135 I think "not in use" means when not being used. Float it, ski a set, sink it, leave, come back an hour later, repeat. So, one of my points was "If I sink it, how can the other folks that may want to use it get to use it, and does that mean if I am done and someone else shows up, do I have to wait around until they are done to sink it?"
    John Wilkins- Si non pro sanguine quem ludus ne. #iskiconnelly
  • oldjeepoldjeep Posts: 3,437 Mega Baller
    @lpskier - nope, I mean it in all seriousness. Bunch of unlit balls with cables hanging below them can be a night navigation hazard on public water - depending on the normal use of the lake and how many folks you get who are not familiar with there being a course there.

    As for your all comers issue, I guess I'd assume that if the course is up and they get in line that you can't tell them to go away.
    Chuck P
    Not a mechanic but I play one at home
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 2,659 Mega Baller
    Our permit language says that the buoys "shall be removed or lowered to not less than 4 feet below the water's surface at any time that the course is not in actual use." I admit that I don't exactly follow this to the letter and I am only at this lake a couple weeks each summer. So, I might take a chance or two during that time and leave it in longer - like the entire week.

    I think the regulations are such that your installation of a course cannot prevent others from using that section of the water, including interrupting your set and taking some runs through your course (which you must allow). I think you can still pull the buoys when you are done and does not mean you have to provide a course beyond your window of actual use. They can still use that section of the water, just by driving around you while you also use that section of water to remove the buoys. It's no different than if you were sitting there fishing, which you must also allow while your course is installed. Now, in all practicality, the one thing that will make a course permit disappear quickly is complaints. That includes complaints from other skiers who don't like it that you took your toys and went home. So, the best solution for that is to get to know the other skiers who might want to use the course and work out arrangements for complying with the permit while providing access to those who would benefit.
    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
    oldjeep
  • lpskierlpskier Posts: 2,611 Mega Baller
    My course, which is not subject to the new rules, has been in its same location on a busy public lake since 1979. It is in place and on the surface 24/7 from mid May to Mid October. In that time, I have had zero complaints that the course presents a hazard, and there have been no reported property damage reports (other than to the course itself) resulting from "Wallys" skiing in it, running jet skis through it, "running the course" by boat and fishing over it (unless you count a snagged lure as property damage). It is an Accufloat course with the buoys connected with buggy cord. I have to say that I could not possibly disagree more with @oldjeep. There is nothing about a slalom course that creates a navigation hazard. All that removing the turn balls or sinking the course does is turn a "seen fishing lure hazard" into an "unseen fishing lure hazard."
    John Wilkins- Si non pro sanguine quem ludus ne. #iskiconnelly
  • RAWSkiRAWSki Posts: 642 Crazy Baller
    Unless the state made a change recently, most permits in MI allow 'balls up' Monday Noon thru Saturday Noon (day & night). Taken down for the busier weekends. And the permit holder does not have exclusive rights to the water or the course so anyone can use the course or cut thru the middle of it if they want. We generally encourage new or potential ballers to try the course and understand it. Chat them up, explain the process and rotation. It helps to have more "course-friends" on the public water.

    Good luck with your revamped site!
    Ed_Obermeier
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 2,659 Mega Baller
    @RAWSki, can you show me some regulations from the Michigan DNR stating that we can have the buoys up "continuously". I must have the old conditions on my permit application forms. I got my original permit in 2007. I can send or attach a copy of mine. But, if they are wrong, I'd like to see the more favorable conditions.
    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
  • KelvinKelvin Posts: 1,165 Mega Baller
    @lpskier I agree with your assessment that removing the turn balls or sinking the course turns a "seen fishing lure hazard" into an "unseen fishing lure hazard" and really poses no other safety issue or hazardous condition if left in place. Seems to me this is an area where the USAWaterski waterways committee should be getting involved to help preserve the sport.
    Kelvin Kelm, Lakes of Katy, Katy Texas
    Broussard
  • lpskierlpskier Posts: 2,611 Mega Baller
    @Kelvin point well taken.
    John Wilkins- Si non pro sanguine quem ludus ne. #iskiconnelly
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 2,659 Mega Baller
    edited February 2015
    @RAWSki, I've attached a copy of the permit rules I received originally. I hope they are visible. It is that last line in the rules that is the killer.

    There is another line on the next page (that I did not attach) that says:

    "Upon the request of an applicant for a permit, and where reasonable, the District Law Supervisor may waive the restrictions enumerated above concerning the times and days during which a course may be used. As used in this provision, “reasonable” shall mean that based on factors such as very few riparian owners or historically low water use, no public interest is served by limiting the use of the course."

    I've tried to use this rule to get some of the conditions relaxed, but no luck yet. I may see if it can help us with our recreation area permit.


    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
  • behindpropellersbehindpropellers Posts: 188 Baller
    Who from "Michigan Waterski Association" made these rules?

    If we had this "removal" restriction we would not have a course in our lake. Does the DNR require every dock and and any other bouy to be removed from the lake at night?
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 2,659 Mega Baller
    I do not know who from MWSA was involved in the discussions with the DNR. Note that it says the DNR and MWSA worked together. My bet is that the DNR was probably about to eliminate courses altogether and this was the compromise to keep any chance of future permits. There are some public lake courses whose terms were "grandfathered" when the new rules were adopted. Those have been allowed to be installed continuously - I've skied on one. If there is a set of rules newer than this with better terms, I would love to see them.
    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
  • klindyklindy Posts: 2,331 Mega Baller
    Jerry Hosner was the MI DNR contact for years and years. When I lived there I had a permit which allowed me to ski without an observer which also was coordinated thru Jerry. No idea if he's still involved with the process.
    Keith Lindemulder
    AWSA Vice President
    AWSA Southern Region EVP
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 2,659 Mega Baller
    @klindy, I believe he still is the legislative representative. I believe we can still ski without an observer, if the driver is a level 1 instructor. There are some other requirements, like putting a sign on the boat indicating something about it being operated in accordance with the provision. The skier is also supposed to be training for a specific tournament. I think the current law is probably tighter (big shock) than what you previously had in place for you.

    Here is that law:

    http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(cjzpaf55buefox25zgebc0u2))/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname=mcl-324-80152
    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 2,659 Mega Baller
    Going back to some of the discussion on course permits on public lakes, I just applied for my renewal and was approved. I received a call from the DNR to request that I complete the new version of the form for their records (I had submitted an old one). The additional paperwork would not affect my approval, but they wanted it to be in compliance. During that call, they mentioned they were glad I was receiving the permit and that they have had to deny many on the west side of upper Michigan (mine is on the east side). Apparently, there has been somewhat of a backlash that has resulted in open hearings, neighbors galvanizing other property owners to object, complaints, and general revocation of permits. I do not use my public lake course very much at all, but I wonder how much longer I will be able to do so. Hopefully, the east side of the state is more tolerant.

    When you combine that emerging atmosphere with the conditions of actually having the permit (remove when not in use, other restrictions), it is evident that private water is the only place that competitive course water skiing will survive. And, with some private water sites failing, that is not a sure thing either.

    We're losing the battle. Correction: we've lost the battle. The war may be over, too.
    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
  • nam1975nam1975 Posts: 140 Baller
    @ MISkier, do you have a link for a MI permit? Someone on my parents lake used to have one? I have a another place to ski and won't need it hopefully? Thanks
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 2,659 Mega Baller
    @nam1975, they have an intermittent history of having this form online. It's not online now. Here is a copy of page 2 which lists the District Law Enforcement Service Centers for each county. You could contact the office serving your specific county for a form. I could also send you a PDF of the form I just received from them.

    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 2,659 Mega Baller
    @nam1975, I sent you a message to your Inbox with the PDF attached. See if that worked.
    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,180 Mega Baller
    When we had a course on the Maumee River, we put on and took off each time. Used an Accufloat and all,it took to put in was 2 guys on the back of the boat with a tracer rope with a snap hook at one and a buoy at the other. Snap the hook on the main course cable and guys on platform jumped off with buous in hand for each gate. Also had a tracer cable from shore to first gate to get started. Took about 15-20 minutes if you hustled. Taking buous off at night was half the time. We also left some boat guide balls on as they would not float the course. Pain in the arse, but not skiing is worse.
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 2,659 Mega Baller
    The draining of Placid Waters began this week. It is now unskiable and will begin its transformation from a ski site to other water sports.
    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
  • Mateo_VargasMateo_Vargas Posts: 857 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    That's too bad. I was there in July and skied real nice.


    Success is failure that just hasn't happened yet
  • Skoot1123Skoot1123 Posts: 1,826 Mega Baller
    That is a bummer. Really nice place there! Never skied there, but have seen it a few times while visiting family there.
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 2,659 Mega Baller
    That looks like some of my fellow club members in that picture. Our club hosted the State Championships there at the end of July.
    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
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