MUCC leads lawsuit to allow boating during lock down

Charter Boat Captain Rex Murphy, a Groveland Township resident with walleye caught on the Detroit River.

Groveland Twp.-Rex Murphy is perplexed.
“I really don’t see why going out in a motor boat is banned under Gov. Whitmer’s revised stay-at-home order while acceptable physical outdoor activities using watercraft includes kayaking, canoeing and sailing is just fine,” said Murphy. “They can have hundreds packed into a food store yet three or four in a boat out fishing is banned.”
Murphy, a Groveland Township resident is the owner of T-Rex Adventures—Detroit and St.Clair River Walleye expeditions. A life-long walleye angler and a charter boat captain docks his 22-foot boat in the Detroit River remains idle this spring.
“Every weekend was booked up for walleye fishing through May,” he said. “I just returned all customers money—due to the ban. The waters down here are the very best in the United States and my investment is lost if we can’t fish now.”
Murphy is just one of thousands statewide that support the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, in a lawsuit filed April 19, in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, argued through their attorneys that Whitmer’s ban on motorized boating is unconstitutional, vague and too broad. The MUCC represents more than 40,000 conservationists statewide.
The coalition is asking a judge to declare motorboat use an allowed “outdoor physical activity” under Whitmer’s revised stay-at-home order, which is intended to limit nonessential trips outside the home to slow the spread of COVID-19. The order, revised on April 9, runs through April 30.
Whitmer’s office and the DNR have leaned heavily on the argument that motorboats require gasoline and further risk the spread of novel coronavirus.
“I have a fuel cell on my boat,” said Murphy. “I will not need fuel for a month. People still go to a gas station and off-road recreational vehicles are still allowed on trails across the state.”
The complaint is requesting an immediate injunction of the blanket prohibition on motorized boating.

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