Whatcom council to discuss how to control tubing on Nooksack

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDAugust 4, 2013 

NOOKSACK TUBING CLO

People tube and float down the south fork of the Nooksack River between Acme and Van Zandt on Saturday, July 6, 2013 in Acme.

ANDY BRONSON — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

Tubing on the south fork Nooksack River probably will stay, and the Whatcom County Council on Tuesday, Aug. 6, will debate how best to accommodate it.

The council has taken some time to mull the fate of tubing in the Nooksack. The Whatcom County Sheriff's Office, meanwhile, didn't wait to increase patrols from Acme to Van Zandt, tempering the notoriously rowdy behavior of some tubers, Sheriff Bill Elfo said in an interview on Friday, Aug. 2.

Four DUI citations were issued near the river the first weekend of added patrols, including one for a vehicle crash with injuries, the sheriff said.

"It seems to be having quite an impact," Elfo said. "They're warning each other on the river."

In a memo to the council, Executive Jack Louws said he will request $30,000 to cover overtime for the extra weekend patrols.

Property owners along the river have complained for years about drunkenness, lewd behavior and assaults from some tubers.

Louws in his Wednesday, July 31, memo presented three options: give tubers everything they need, including parking, toilets and garbage service; tolerate the tubers while beefing up law enforcement and posting warning signs, or prohibit tubing altogether - an option the executive doesn't think is legal.

After county officials discuss tubing at the noon council meeting on Tuesday, the sheriff will talk at the same meeting about ongoing problems with gangs in the county. The meeting is at the courthouse, 311 Grand Ave., Bellingham.

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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