2017-09-07 / Community

Advisory signs posted for kayakers

HURON COUNTY - Huron County Sheriff Kelly J. Hanson reported that the Huron County Sheriff’s Office and the Huron County Road Commission began posting 24-inch-by- 18-inch metal advisory signs for kayakers in the Port Austin area, according to a news release.

Hanson stated the signs are for safe practices to consider before setting out on a journey that could possibly put themselves and others into harm’s way. These signs were developed from actual experiences that the Sheriff’s Office have encountered with kayak rescues over the years and were one of a few feasible ideas that came from a multi-agency meeting conducted at the Port Austin Fire Hall in July.

Hanson stated he called that meeting in response to the many rescues so far that year and other issues that the ever-increasing popularity of kayaking had developed in Huron County.

Along with the Sheriff’s Office, in attendance at the meeting were representatives from Port Austin Fire, Port Austin Police, Port Austin Village, Port Austin Township, Pointe aux Barques Township, Port Austin Kayak and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Others invited but unable to attend were representatives from three area shoreline residential associations and the Huron County Road Commission.

The goal is for kayakers to take heed of these advisories and to educate the novice or those unfamiliar to the area. This is in hopes of alleviating many of the safety and trespassing concerns.

This year, around 70 kayakers have been assisted to shore by the Sheriff’s Office and the Port Austin Fire Department, after Huron Central Dispatch was called. Even though many of the 70 were in or very close to an emergency situation, about six actually were in a predicament that assistance made the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, one kayaker lost his life on the east side of Huron County to an incident in July, as well as another who had died a year before.

So far this year, the Sheriff’s Office has tripled the amount of tickets written to kayakers for no life jackets and have issued many warning to those getting ready to launch without one. The Township of Pointe aux Barques has had to add extra shore patrols over the year before and has issued trespassing tickets to a few who ventured too far onto private property. Injuries on the rock formations of that area requiring an ambulance for a couple of kayakers also occurred. Numerous incidents of stranded kayakers needing to be taken to their guardhouse to be picked up at the entrance of their private community were reported. Additionally, nearly 1,000 vehicles wanting to see Turnip Rock were turned away at that entrance throughout the summer. It was further claimed as of the Aug. 27, nearly 5,000 kayaks had been observed transiting their shore this summer. This works out to more than 80 per day on average.

At this point Hanson stated that the focus for the signage is on the Port Austin area and additional signage could possibly come before next summer.

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