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Some Residents Call for Lake Wheeler Jet Ski Ban

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RALEIGH — For hundreds of people on Lake Wheeler an average day means zooming around on a boat or a jet ski, but some people who live near the lake want to put the brakes on this kind of fun.

Residents began a petition to make the lake a slow-wake or a no-wake zone.

Jet skis and power boats cruise across Lake Wheeler at speed of 45 mph and higher. Local residents can hear the roar of the engines from their backyards.

They are unhappy about the noise and worried about the environmental impact of all the engines. No one is allowed to swim in Lake Wheeler because it is a secondary drinking water supply.

Some residents want to limit the lake to boats with 7-horsepower engines or less.

"I'm concerned about the dumping of the fuel, and the environment," said boat restriction supporter Sondra Lucas. "We have eagles out here since Fran came along. The wildlife has been spectacular out here during that time that the lake was closed."

A 7-horsepower limit would ban almost any power boat or jet ski. The only watercraft allowed would be canoes and sailboats.

Boaters point out that the lake has been there much longer than the waterfront home. Issa Shikh lives near and fishes on Lake Wheeler, and he has a suggestion for his neighbors that want to restrict boat use.

"I think that everybody that has moved into this neighborhood knew that there was a lake here before they moved in," Shikh said. "If they don't like noise, the mountains are not too far from here. There are a lot of pretty place in North Carolina and Raleigh they can enjoy without the noise."

Organizers of the petition drive hope to collect thousands of signatures, which they will then present to the Raleigh City Council. They will not just knock door-to-door in their neighborhoods, but plan to drop petitions off at local environmental groups and local bait shops.

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Stephanie Hawco, Reporter
Robert Meikle, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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