P. O. Box 519
Granville WV 26534-0519

3 July 2000

Senator Robert C. Byrd
311 Senate Hart Office Building

Washington DC 20510


Dear Senator Byrd:

Dick Dowling, Chief, Public Affairs Office, Pittsburgh District, US Army Corps of Engineers, tells me that they've replied to you concerning your lock hours query. Bob Gall and I look forward to your response.

We need to keep the Upper Monongahela River locks in West Virginia open and on a schedule that fosters recreational boating and river community development. The Morgantown lock must remain open all day all year. The Hildebrand and Opekiska locks preferably should be open all day during the 1 March through 31 October boating season. Or, at a bare minimum, Hildebrand and Opekiska should be open from 8am to midnight during the boating season.

Legislation is needed to equate recreational boating and river community development with the Corps current mandated concerns for river commerce, flood control, and, river flow maintenance, when setting lock hours.

The federal government, and state governments, need to do more to foster long distance recreational boating and river community development. This can be done by keeping locks open for expanded hours during the recreational boating season, and, by development of shoreside facilities needed by long-distance recreational boaters. These points are highlighted by the two letters I've received from Bill Frotscher (copies enclosed, along with Bill's letter to Heartland Boating magazine).

Bill's letters provide cogent arguments as to why the federal and state governments should foster recreational boating. Bill emphasizes the growing economic value of recreational boating to the nation's economy. Bill also points out that the "delta" cost of keeping locks open for recreational boaters certainly must be minor when considered along with the total costs of maintaining and operating the lock and dam.

Finally, I request that you consider asking the Congressional Budget Office (with of course assistance from the Corps) to study the use of our nation's navigable rivers over, say, the past 30 years. The study perhaps should include the growth in and economic importance of recreational boating, and, river commerce trends during the past 30 years. The study might also recommend federal legislation that would encourage development of recreational boating and fishing.


Donald Strimbeck, Secretary

Encls: Frotscher letters.


Bill Frotscher first wrote me about his experiences with "lock hours problems" on 9 May 2000. His first letter, and, my response, were put out via email on 15 May. Bill has written me again. His letter to me, and, his letter to HEARTLAND BOATING magazine, follow. And, I've added Bill's first letter at the end.

LETTER TO DON STRIMBECK from William F. Frotscher, 36 Pine Tree Lane, Newburg, PA 17240, 717-423-6161, dated 22 June 2000:

Dear Don:

Thanks for the latest information concerning the situation on the Mon lock closing times. I appreciate your efforts and applaud those who may be helping you.

Enclosed is a copy of a letter I have submitted to Heartland Boating Magazine. My observations on this recent trip tends to indicate that the use of the rivers for long distance, (inter-lockal), cruising is quite minimal. Although there are a few of us who participate, the number is relatively small in comparison to the costs of maintaining and operating the lock and dam system. However, there is a tremendous recreational and therefore economical asset available on our rivers that is not being fully utilized. As indicated in my letter to Heartland, I believe long distance recreational cruising could be greatly increased, if more river-side facilities were developed and maintained. I do not feel this is the responsibility of the Corps of Engineers, (although they do it in some areas where power and flood control dams have been built in non-navigable waters). It should be the responsibility of the states bordering the waterways to develop and maintain facilities which will enhance business opportunities in their areas.

Since the federal government has such a strong taxing ability, it can supply funding to assist with the development and maintenance of the facilities which will enable a better use of our water resources. As use increases, so will water oriented business. Hopefully, private enterprise will be able to move in and operate facilities when it becomes feasible. This system has worked very well on inland lakes which the Corps has constructed.

I believe it is time again to re-evaluate whether the US Army is the proper branch of the government to be operating our waterway system. Without question, I agree there was a time when this was very appropriate. However, with the present day mentality of reducing our military force, and changing of priorities to a star wars defense, I think the Corps is feeling the squeeze of lack of funding. It certainly appears to be more and more appropriate the Corps should be a part of the Dept. of Transportation. This portion of the government seems to be in a more favorable position to receive funding for capital improvements.

The lock situation continues to be a problem. Our recent trip on the Muskingum floundered as a result of inadequate lock scheduling (just not open long enough), and a lack of mooring facilities between locks in which we stood a strong risk of being trapped by locks closing minutes before we could make our way through. As a result our proposed 75 mile trip up the river and back was shortened to 25 miles up and back, and, the balance of our time was spent on the Ohio River, which did not have the lock hours restraints. I understand the Muskingum is no longer a portion of the federal system, but our trip was an example of what can happen with restricted lock times.

The other subject which comes into play in this matter is the obligation of the dam builders to provide passage on the river. Here in Pennsylvania on the Susquehanna, the dam builders have spent millions of dollars providing for fish to pass up and down the river through the dams. I am an ardent fisherman, so I think it is great. However, I feel it behooves the dam builders to provide passage for boats also. This may not be as necessary on rivers like the Susquehanna which for the most part was limited to canoe travel, when the water was high, before the dams were built. But, on navigable waters, boats should have the right and benefit of unimpeded travel, especially when the waterway, in it's natural condition allowed this.

I understand it is a much more costly undertaking to move boats through a dam then it is fish, however, I believe this responsibility to provide passage was taken on, when it was decided to build the dam; as was evidenced by the building of the locks. Abandoning this responsibility at this time, primarily because certain users of the facility no longer wish to use it, is not acceptable to the others of us who wish to use it. Those others of us were among the ones who granted permission to build the dams in the first place and are also among those who have continued to pay for its operation.

The question remains, "Are the dams and the ability to pass through them of economic and sociological importance to us as a nation?" I believe the answer is, yes!

The present and future use of the waterways as a source of recreation and the economics of the recreation industry, will grow, especially when shore-side facilities are provided. The improvement in water conditions as brought about by controlling pollution have greatly upgraded the river's desirability as a recreational source. It is now time for us to reap the benefits gained from enforcement of water quality measures. We need to continue to grow and improve. The resource is there, we need to protect is and manage it in order to realize the great benefits which are available.

(You may wish to use the contents of these letters in your political arguments concerning these matters. Possibly Heartland Boating may wish to combine both of them in an article. If the information is used, I hope appropriate credits will be indicated).

/s/ William F. Frotscher


EDITORIAL NOTE BY GRINCH (Strimbeck). What now follows is Bill Frotscher's letter to HEARTLAND BOATING. Letter dated 18 June 2000.

H. Nelson Spencer, Editor
Heartland Boating
The Waterways Journal Inc.
319 N. Fourth St Suite 650
St. Louis MO 63102

Dear Mr. Spencer:

Recently I returned from a four day weekend cruise, centered around Marietta, Ohio. A friend and I chose this location as one to explore in his home built wooden launch. Cruising on the Muskingum and the Ohio was extremely enjoyable. One of the most remarkable aspects of the trip was the scarcity of other boaters who were enjoying the rivers with us.

If it weren't for the fisherman participating in a bass tournament from St. Marys, West Virginia, we would have been extremely lonely. Barge traffic was reasonably frequent, as was the day-boating traffic around the Marietta harbor on Saturday and Sunday.

We ran into two boats long distance cruising at the Marietta Harbor Marina and discussed with them their impressions of river cruising. In general, they were having a good time because they were avid boaters and they were doing what they enjoyed most; but it seemed there was something missing which was causing difficulties. That something which was missing was sufficient overnight tie-up space with restroom and shower facilities along much of the river, both up and downstream. The other facility which was becoming more and more scarce was refueling points, and of course fuel costs were astronomical.

There is a move a-foot to have the Corps of Engineers give recreational boaters increased consideration in their management of the waterways under their control. Building a case for increased expenditures of tax funds by counting pleasure boats traveling on the river, on other than weekends, appears to be rather difficult. However, I believe it is the lack of concern for the long distance cruising boater which has greatly contributed to the scarcity of these travelers.

While stopped at Marietta Harbor Marina, we were visited by an official of the Ohio state government. He informed us of an interest by the state in encouraging the recreational use of river assets by building parks and marinas along the river to encourage recreational use. I believe this is what is needed to stimulate recreational boating.

When the facilities are available, the boaters will come. The boaters are used to spending money, and their purchases will stimulate local economies. Private enterprise will flourish with the increased number of users, and tax incomes will quickly offset any expenditures which have been made.

Here is an opportunity for tremendous growth. Recreational boating needs to receive more emphasis. Although it has been around for many years, it is a whole new frontier waiting to be expanded.

Sincerely, /s/ William F. Frotscher


Re Bill's first letter to Strimbeck.

P. O. Box 519
Granville WV 26534-0519

15 May 2000

William F. Frotscher
36 Pine Tree Lane
Newburg PA 17240

Dear Bill:

Many, many thanks for your 9 May letter!!! Please note from the enclosures to this letter that I have made fine use of your letter!! And, I've given you two copies of the enclosed stuff. One copy is for your file. As for the other copy, please do one of two options. One option is to slap a cover letter on the enclosures, and, forward it to your congressman, and, ask him to help with the lock hours issue, and, to contact Congressman Mollohan. Or, if you feel comfortable in so doing, write Bud Schuster and ask if he might get involved, and, send him my package of information. And, if you want to write both your congressman and Bud Schuster, let me know, and I'll send you another set of my information. Whatever!! But, please cc me on any such letters.

Also, it would help if you could get other boaters and marina operators that you know, informed about our lock hours efforts. And, ask that they write their congressman, etc. They also may contact me if they wish to get my packet of information.



1.0 Strimbeck 12 May 2000 letter to Congressman Mollohan, plus other material re lock hours issue.
2.0 Strimbeck 17 March 2000 letter to Congressman Mollohan.

From William F. Frotscher, 36 Pine Tree Lane, Newburg, PA 17240, 717-423-6161, 9 May 2000.

Dear Don:

I have been reading your letters in various boating magazines concerning your interest in giving recreational boating a higher priority when considering the operation of our inland navigable waters. I too would like to see the waters remain open, which therefore means keeping the locks operational. Last Spring I made a trip on the upper Monongahela and ran into a problem with an early lock closing. I believe the scheduled time for closing was 4:00PM. I arrived at the lock about 3:50 in the midst of a lockage going the same way I was headed. Naturally, it took time to refill the lock in order to lock me through. I had given up and decided to look for a marina to tie up to for the night when I noticed the lockmaster standing at the end of the lock wall waving for me to come in. I really appreciated his helpfulness, and pleasant attitude in going the extra mile.

Later in the year my friend and I planned a two day trip up the Allegheny. Our first days travel took us to the point of being below a lock which did not open until 12:30 pm. Unfortunately we had no plans to sit around half of the day waiting for the lock to open. We were told that if we called the lock and asked real nice they probably would lock us through. We declined to ask for the special consideration and turned around and went back to Pittsburgh.

The point of my stories are: apparently the locks are manned even though they are not supposed to open them up during the closed hours. But, why not? What is the additional expense? I believe the capital expense of construction, maintenance and labor are all fairly fixed expenses. Surely, a few more openings and closings in a days time would not be significant.

The main point of the controversy still remains. Is it economical (beneficial to the national economy) to maintain navigable waters for recreational boating? I believe it certainly is. Possibly the upriver locks which are no longer handling commercial traffic could be turned over to the National Park Service.

A safe trip on our inland waterways, tracing past historical routes of our country is just as important as a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, or a ride down Skyline Drive. The television series "On the Waterways" clearly pointed out that a much different perspective to our national heritage can be obtained by traveling by boat. Besides when a visitor arrives by boat, he is greeted by the local populace, entirely differently than when arriving by automobile.

Possibly, locks which are no longer feasible to operate commercially could be run on a schedule other than whenever a boat arrived. Maybe once every hour a full cycle could be executed to pass all accumulated boats up and down stream. Only operation during daylight hours would be another modification probably acceptable for recreational purposes. Special winter schedules could also be arranged.

The National Park Service uses volunteers to help with the operation of their programs. I am a volunteer in the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. I am sure if the call went out for help, volunteers would be available to help with operation.

Most of the dams are designed to provide 9 feet of navigable water in the pools as a minimum. Maybe this could be dropped to 5 feet, which would accommodate most recreational boats. This should assist in the magnitude of water needed for each lock through. Possibly a temporary mini-lock system could be developed to pass smaller recreational boats through.

Recreational user fees are acceptable in most cases by those who receive special privileges for use of public facilities. I suppose a toll program could be developed for an updated waterway system. Personally I despise paying tolls and user fees for facilities which we pay taxes to support, but it is part of the system currently in effect, so why not the waterways too.

I suspect Bud Schuster might be helpful in getting some of these things turned around. Waterways are a means of transportation. Whether they are used for commercial purposes or for recreation is really not important. Recreation is a major business. Boating recreation is an important part of that business.

Let's do what it takes to keep our waterways open!

Sincerely, /s/ William F. Frotscher