Whatcom council debates whether tubers should be banned from Nooksack River

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 17, 2013 

ACME - Tubers floating down the south fork Nooksack River are a seasonal nuisance to nearby landowners, who say they witness public drunkenness, urination and other inappropriate acts in their backyards.

But the tubers are a legitimate recreation group, not to mention good for business, said Jeff Margolis, owner of Everybody's Store at Potter Road and Highway 9.

"Who's looking out for the tubers? Well, it's me," Margolis said. "I feel like I'm an ombudsperson standing up for the public interest. Here's a constituency that has no organization."

Whether to allow tubing on the river, or at least how to control it, will be discussed at a meeting of the Whatcom County Council at 3 p.m. Tuesday, June 18. Council meetings are held in the county courthouse, 311 Grand Ave., Bellingham.

"Unfortunately, it's like anything else - the bad ones kind of wreck it for the rest of us," said council member Bill Knutzen, who requested the discussion. "We have to figure out a better way of doing things up there, and I don't know what the answer is. I would hope it wouldn't be an outright ban on tubing in the south fork, but we've got to work out some kind of solution."

Knutzen said he wants to give the public a chance to speak at Tuesday's meeting, even though it is only a preliminary conversation with no decision to be made.

Margolis said he would be there.

"I'm not saying there aren't issues to deal with. I'm saying we need to manage those issues," Margolis said, adding that he wants the county to be more involved in regulating activity on the river.

"People who have an interest in accessing this river should be at that meeting."

Reach Ralph Schwartz at 360-715-2289 or ralph.schwartz@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Politics blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/politics or follow him on Twitter at @bhamheraldpolitics.

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