Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Coast Guard Delays Plan For Live-Fire Training On Lake Superior

A U.S. Coast Guard plan to set up weapons training zones on the Great Lakes will get another two months for the public to comment before it's put into place. The Coast Guard's about-face came a day after a deadline and a day after members of Wisconsin and Minnesota's congressional delegation asked for the extension because few outside of the Coast Guard had heard of the proposal. The plan involves establishing 23 zones where the exercises will take place. Three of the zones will be five miles from shore in Lake Superior near Two Harbors, Bayfield and Grand Marais.Coast Guard officials argue that they need the zones to train for national security and maritime safety issues. They would use them only two or three times a year and warn boaters and marinas ahead of time, they said. The plan has encountered little opposition so far in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. But U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., and Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., along with the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club, asked for a public hearing on the plan. However, there was no word that the Coast Guard would hold one.

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