BRUNSWICK

Should the boat launch at Simpson’s Point be open to motorized craft during the offseason? That’s the question the Brunswick Rivers and Coastal Waters Commission will take up again when it meets next Wednesday.

“At that point, I couldn’t tell you for sure if they would have a recommendation ready to go,” said Steve Walker, who represents the town council on the commission.

About a dozen people commented during a workshop held by the commission this week, said Walker.

Marine Resources Officer and Harbor Master Dan Devereaux said the workshop was productive.

“Hopefully, something good comes out of it,” Devereaux said.

According to Walker, noise concerns are the common denominator among those opposing opening the launch to motorized boats.

While there were comments regarding the effects of oil and gas, and lack of parking, those most worried were concerned over airboats being launched close to their homes, according to Walker.

Airboats, capable of skimming over shallow water, are used by some harvesters to go across mud flats.

The large fan on an airboat’s stern used to propel the craft, as opposed to a traditional motorboat prop, generates noise equivalent to a prop-driven airplane, said Devereaux.

The council will likely hold another public hearing. If the council concludes changes ought to be made, it will make a request to that effect to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, which has the final say.

Walker said finding the right balance between residents and harvesters would be “pretty damn tough,” but also said it was “reasonable to consider” allowing motorized craft use of the launch from mid October to early April.

Commission Vice Chair Sue Stableford refused to answer any questions when reached Thursday.

Simpson’s Point was closed to motorized boat traffic after the Mere Point boat launch opened in 2008 to offset the loss of eel grass habitat associated with boating activity there.

With the aquatic plant on the decline throughout the area, a study to determine whether eel grass would return to Simpson’s Point was inconclusive.

While eel grass hasn’t returned, many locals are taking advantage of the quiet at Simpson’s Point. Despite a lack of parking and public land, the area has become a favorite spot for recreation and swimming.

Harvesters need to access the flats at upper Middle Bay. The new boat launch at Mere Point is significantly larger than Simpson’s Point. It is also three miles further from the flats at upper Middle Bay. Members of the commission are concerned for the safety of shellfish harvesters, who must navigate rough, deep water to reach the flats.

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Why closed?

SIMPSON’S POINT was closed to motorized boat traffic after the Mere Point boat launch opened in 2008 to offset the loss of eel grass habitat associated with boating activity there.



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