Jet Boats on the Yak!

I found the post below on another site and called Steve Yoyce at Red's in the Canyon to confirm it. It's true and exactly the type of cause that I would hope that YRFF (Yakima River Fly Fishers) would take up and work to get the permit rescinded.

If you fish the Yak, make your voice heard and get the jet boat off the river.


"Through my "spies" I have learned that an individual who owns property on the Yakima (the shack below Red's near MP 14) has been granted a permit allowing him to run his Jet Boat on the Yakima River, in violation of the general ban against motorized vehicles on the river.

Apparently, a hearing took place in Eburg at which this permit was issued. Notice of this hearing was published in the Eburg paper. But alas, most of us don't READ the Ellensburg paper, so no one showed up to contest the issue.

The rationale presented by the individual was that he owns property along the river that has been in his family prior to the motorized vessel restrictions. He also said at the hearing that he would use the vessel for river clean up.

The vessel is not supposed to be driven in an "unsafe manner" or at speeds exceeding 20 mph. I dunno about you, but a jet boat bearing down on me at 19 mph would not do much to make me feel safe on the river.

I think most of us who spend time on the Canyon would agree that this is a very dangerous precedent. In addition to the hazard posed to tubers, rafters, drift boaters, and waders (do YOU want to be out there in the current up to your chest, when his wake hits you?), jet boats can do serious damage to spawning beds, insect habitat and shorelines. We all know that river otters, mink and other critters become much more scarce when the tubers are out in force -- imagine the impact that the noise of a jet sled will have!

In addition, since the "no motorized vessels" sign appears only at the Roza launch, people driving through the canyon and seeing this vessel on the water are much more likely to launch their jet sleds at the upper launches, either innocently or in knowing violation of the law but on the basis that "someone else is doing it, so can I."

We apparently have limited recourse, but I urge you to do the following:

- write a letter to the Kittitas County Sherrif urging that the permit not be extended in the following year. Remind them of the positive economic impact that fly fishermen have on the river -- I know I personally drop at least $500, and often much more, in Kittitas County each year as a result of my fishing trips.

- write the same letters to the Kittitas County Commissioners, and/or to the Ellensburg Chamber of Commerce. One person should not have the right to endanger the thousands of people who use this river every year, and decision makers need to know that we will not stand for it.

- document any unsafe boating practices you see by this individual, with letters or phone complaints to the sheriff. If you can get video, do it!

- be diligent at the launches -- don't get yourself shot, don't be a jerk about it, but remind anyone you see launching a power boat that they are prohibited in the canyon above Roza.

I hope the rest of you are as outraged by this move as I am. There are precious few resources like the Yakima, and protecting them requires a lot of diligence. While I am sympathetic to people's property rights, this man does NOT own the river. We need to stand up and be counted."

Here's the relevant addresses:

Kittitas County Sheriff Dept.
attn Gene Dana
205 W. 5th
Ellensburg, WA 98926
(509) 962-7525
[email protected]

Kittitas County
Board of Commissioners
205 W 5th AVE, Room 108
Ellensburg WA 98926
[email protected]

609 North Main Street
Ellensburg, WA 98926
(888) 925-2204
(509) 925-3138
[email protected]

Daily Record
Bill Kunerth - publisher
[email protected]

"In our family, there is no clear
line between religion and fly
fishing" Norman Maclean


Active Member
Public records rock. Here is where I found the guys name: John Smets Jr.
06/17/2003 MINUTES 2
At approximately 4:38 p.m. Chairman Golladay opened the public hearing
to consider Kittitas County Code 9.10.030 Amendment, Allowing for
Issuance of Permits to Authorize Motorized Vessels on Restricted Areas
of the Yakima River.
ROB DEGROOT, UNDERSHERIFF presented the staff report to the Board. He
explained that Mr. John Smets spoke with the Sheriff’s Department
requesting that motorized vessels be allowed on the Yakima River, so
that he and his family could clean the portion of the River that abuts
his land. At this time, the Sheriff’s Department doesn’t have a
recommendation, but should the amendment be approved, they will be the
responsible party issuing the permits.
CHAIRMAN GOLLADAY opened the public hearing to public testimony.
JOHN SMETS SR, testified that he is interested in obtaining a permit to
be allowed to take his motorized boat on the Yakima River, in order to
clean the banks of the river that abut his property. He gave the Board a
brief history of how long the land has been in his family and showed on
an aerial, the area that he is asking permission to use.
JOHN SMETS JR, testified that he is in support of the amendment allowing
the use of boats to maintain the waterfront property. He added that at
times, there have been citizens floating and have needed assistance in
that area, either because of a leak in their raft or falling out of
their rafts and with the use of a motorized boat, it would make it
easier to assist those people.
SHERIFF GENE DANA, stated that Mr. Smets has demonstrated positive
efforts in cleaning up the Yakima River area and he doesn’t believe that
the Smets Family will abuse the ability to use motor vessels. He asks
that there be a 1 year trial basis and after a year, re-evaluate the
COMMISSIONER HUSTON moved to approve Ordinance 2003-08 Amending Kittitas
County Code 9.10.030 Allowing for Issuance of Permits to Authorize
Motorized Vessels on Restricted Areas of the Yakima River.
COMMISSIONER GOLLADAY seconded. Motion passed 3-0.

Here is the link: Select PDF JUne 17, 2003

Total Bullsh*t lack of public comments or due process:reallymad


Active Member
Thanks for the info. Time to put fingers to keyboard. Someone in officialdom, chairman Golladay, took it hook line and sinker as the saying goes.

What type of "cleaning" the river requires a motorized boat?

I am worried that the real agenda is not assisting rafters and cleaning the river. As a grandfathered landowner what other current rules does this landowner intend to claim exemption to.
I gave 'em my two cents worth in this'd all the supporting business on the Ellensburg home page as well...

As someone who takes a large amount of "Westside" money to spend in Kittitas co a dozen times a year, I am disgusted with the decision to allow motorized craft on the Yakima. As much as I love the Yakima river, I believe I will spend my flyfishing money in the quiet secluded waters of Grant county from now on. This reaks of "good-ol'-boy" politics.

The local businesses who will lose significant tourism money should show their displeasure come election time!


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