A U.S. Coast Guard rule to establish Regulated Navigation Areas along the Oregon and Washington coasts becomes effective today, allowing the Coast Guard to close and restrict access to as many as 16 river bars on the Oregon and Washington coast.

The Coast Guard is reassuring river users that the rule change does not mean significant differences to bar closure policy. But discussion of the rule by fishermen, smaller recreational boaters and bar pilots brings up a litany of complaints about how the Coast Guard manages the bar at the expense of many who rely on it for their living.

Those bar users have misunderstood the new rule, said Lt. Kion Evans, the 13th Coast Guard District's Regulated Navigation Area expert. The rule will have minimal effect on current procedures for recreational vessels and uninspected passenger vessels crossing river bars in dangerous conditions, he said. "The biggest misconception is that things are changing, when they're really not," Evans said.

However, that assurance doesn't console boaters who think the sometimes subjective process used locally to close the Columbia River bar is flawed.

? For more on this story, read Thursday's edition of The Daily Astorian or log on to this Web site later Thursday

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