Michigan Sportsman's Group Sues Governor Whitmer Over COVID-19 Motorboat Ban

Sportsman's group sues over coronavirus boating ban.

A little over a week after Michigan temporarily banned the use of motorboats due to the coronavirus pandemic, a sportsman's group is suing Governor Gretchen Whitmer and co-defendant Department of Natural Resources Director Daniel Eichinger over the matter.

Mlive.com reports the lawsuit was filed Sunday in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids by the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC). Michigan has been under an executive "stay-at-home" order for weeks now. The order is currently set to run until April 30. The goal of the lawsuit is to have motorboat use added to the list of exceptions for outdoor recreation by a judge.

According to the news site, the group claims the ban is unconstitutional. They also claim the executive order's exceptions are too vague because they allow non-motorized sailboats, kayaks and canoes to be used.

The DNR said the prohibition of motorboats was meant to stop congregation at boat ramps and limit travel to and from lakes. However, the MUCC says people using the allowed watercraft are still congregating at boat ramps.

The vagueness of the order isn't the only thing the MUCC is upset about. They also argue that fishing is important as a source of income and an escape from the disruption to daily routine.

"Many MUCC members rely on this fishing not only as locally sourced, high-quality protein for their family and friends, but also as an activity important to their mental health during the stresses of this pandemic," the organization's lawyers wrote.

The MUCC's Executive Director Amy Trotter is saying that the lawsuit is not being politically driven, they have supported the DNR's actions in shutting down some areas where fishermen were refusing to socially distance.

"MUCC has been supportive of the administration's legal closure of areas like Tippy Dam, where anglers continually were asked to social distance and conservation and law enforcement officers were met with resistance," Trotter said.

The news of the boating ban broke late on a Friday and many boaters and fishermen were unaware of the changes. The Michigan DNR handed out 323 warnings and five citations to people either boating or congregating at boat launches the first weekend it was in place.

The DNR said the citations were only handed out to five people who refused to comply with officer orders.

We will keep an eye on this story and bring you more developments as they come in here at Wide Open Spaces.

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels