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Kayakers worry jet skis will destroy backwaters of Estero Bay


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Kayakers worry jet skis will destroy backwaters of Estero Bay

By Sara Belsole. CREATED Mar 3, 2014

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. - Kayaking is one of the best ways to enjoy the Southwest Florida scenery, unless you're interrupted.

"All of the sudden you'll hear the jet skis coming out," kayaker John Paeno said.

Paneo leads kayak tours through the Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail.

He says areas like the Imperial River and the backwaters of Estero Bay are perfect for kayaking, but not jet skiing.

"You don't want to see motorcycles on a bike trail," he said.

"You don't want to see jet skis on a paddling trail," Paeno added.

Paeno says in recent months he's seen more and more jet skis blasting through the backwaters and that it's dangerous for wildlife.

"I have seen more than one case with a dolphin or a manatee with a big gash across its back," Paeno said.

But Paeno says he has a solution.

"I would love to see no jet ski zones, or no motor zones, where you have to pull in or push out," Paeno said.

Fox 4 reached out to Lee County officials to find out who enforces which jet skis are allowed in the back waters and which aren't.

We received a statement, saying in part, "Lee County Code Enforcement will continue, as always, to monitor vendor operations in Estero Bay and elsewhere to ensure that county ordinances are not being violated."

But since some vendors have permits to jet ski in those waters and some don't, Paeno says it can get confusing.

"It's a big Gulf of Mexico out there, there's a lot of places jet skis can go without any problem but the backwaters isn't one of them," Paeno said.

Under Florida law, county governments cannot exclude certain water crafts from area waters. That would include private jet skis.


Sara Belsole

Sara Belsole

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Sara Belsole is a video journalist for FOX 4