UPDATE: The Whatcom County Council did not adopt a tubing ban on Tuesday. Instead, they plan to ask the county executive to convene a meeting with various department heads, including the sheriff, to come up with a solution for the problems on the river.
WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. -- With warm weather and summer vacation on the horizon, Lynne Wheeler worries about what awaits just around the bend on the Nooksack River.
"I've seen littering, urination. Lots of fights between men that are intoxicated. You see people carrying others back to their cars because they're so drunk,” she said.
Wheeler says summer brings a floating frat party to the Nooksack and it gets worse every year. The situation is prompting a proposal for to the Whatcom County Council to ban tubing on the river's South Fork altogether.
“Until the county is ready to step up and provide trash cans, bathrooms, a deputy, I feel like the situation cannot continue the way it is,” said Wheeler, who grew up and lives on the river.
The problem is that no one is regulating the 2-mile stretch of the Nooksack. There are no bathrooms, no law enforcement. People have to put up signs to keep others off their property, but some say there is a solution.
“All I’m saying is have a heart,” said Jeffrey Margolis.
Margolis has run “Everybody’s Store” near the river for 43 years. While he concedes his business depends on the money tubers spend every summer, he thinks a ban is heavy handed.
“When it's 90 degrees, people want to go to the river,” he said.
Margolis is floating a plan to assign a county department to oversee the river, educate the public about a code of conduct and bring in volunteer deputies to keep things family friendly. He agrees things need to be cleaned up, but doesn’t want to see a summer tradition sink.
“We're only talking about a handful of days in the year as if it's the end of the world,” he said.
The Whatcom County Council discussed the issue on Tuesday. Supporters of the ban hope to have something on the books before the end of the summer.
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