By Paul J Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director
This article is an update on MLSA’s continuing efforts to follow the science relative to the impact watercraft could have when operating in “wake boat mode” on Michigan’s inland lakes and streams. Previous coverage on this topic can be found in the MLSA website “NEWS” pages. This month’s article shares the status of wake concerns in other states.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Even before the University of Minnesota study about recreational watercraft wakes was released, groups in New Hampshire were attempting to change that state’s set back to 250 feet. The bill was introduced in their House of Representatives and referred to the appropriate committee. While the bill was being considered the Minnesota study was released and riparian groups petitioned for an amendment to increase the set back to 500 feet. After a hearing, the committee narrowly voted the matter as “inexpedient to legislate” effectively stopping the bill. The largest riparian group in NH states, they learned a lot and remain concerned about wake surfing’s impact on lake health. The group is now working on the next steps to take in this crucial issue.
VERMONT: In Vermont, a broad based group named the “Responsible Wakes for Vermont’s Lakes” filed a legal petition with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation to adopt a revised rule for boating use on lakes and ponds under the Vermont Use of Public Waters Rules. The March 9, 2022 filing references the Minnesota study and requests the rules change as follows for watercraft operating in “wake boat mode”:
- 1000 FT SHORELINE PROTECTION ZONE/SETBACK
- 20 FT MINIMUM LAKE DEPTH PROTECTION ZONE
- MINIMUM 60 CONTIGUOUS ACRE WAKE SPORT “ZONE”
The Vermont “petition” is a process unique to that state and the document is 54 pages long. There are also over 84 pages of citations and supporting documentation.
WHAT ARE THE RIGHT RULES FOR LAKE HEALTH?
MLSA continues to urge caution in arriving at any premature conclusions. We believe that, at a minimum, data and analysis are needed about the following relevant concerns:
- How far from shore should wake boat mode activity occur?
- In what depth of water is it ok to operate in wake boat mode?
- How much acreage on the water is needed to create a wake boat mode “operating area?”
- What special Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) control methods might be required for wake boats being transported between water bodies?
The MLSA conference in May 2022 will have a session on the Minnesota boat wake study and the researchers will deliver a presentation. We have questions for the scientists and you probably do also!