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Boating a wash-out for holiday weekend, DNR issues warning

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The U.S Coast Guard and the Iowa Department of Natural resources are strongly urging boaters in the Quad Cities to stay off the river until the Mississippi River goes down.

"Basically, if you've got plans to go boating on the river, you better change them," said Ed Kocal, a conservation officer with the Iowa DNR.

"We don't recommend anyone on the river. We don't want to put ourselves in jeopardy to try to rescue someone that gets in trouble on the river," Kocal said.

Veteran boaters at Rock Island's Sunset Marina say they are staying put this holiday weekend, just  like they did last Fourth of July.

"It's not worth the risk," said Doreen Youngberg, who was hanging out at the marina on her boat, appropriately named, the Noah's Arc.

"Just like last year, deja vu, Happy Fourth of July. The boaters are stuck in the pond," she said, laughing.

A few slips away, Marty Iten of the Twin Cities is going nowhere fast. He was headed from Minnesota to Texas on his big boat, and is now docked at Sunset.

"I'm stuck because all the locks closed, so it sounds, like a week to two weeks here," Iten said, referring to the Army Corps of Engineers closing the Lock and Dams south of the Quad Cities.

He and the others are taking it in stride, but say the boating season is getting shorter and shorter.

"Anymore, it's July and August. There is no such thing as a normal boating season anymore. You just have to take it as it comes," said boater Steve Selliers.

The warning issued by the DNR does not go as far as 1993, when the Coast Guard actually banned recreational boats on the river.

"The US Coast Guard can do that. We don't have the authority to shut navigation down or recreational traffic, but we are advising people, to stay off," said Kocal.

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