By: Melissa DeSimone, Executive Director and Paul J. Sniadecki, Board Director
Over the last few years, MLSA has heard the concerns of many of our members about the wave action of large wakeboats around inland lakes and waterways. The Michigan Riparian magazine has also featured several articles on this topic. Some members have advocated for a complete legislative ban on wakeboats. Other members have suggested Michigan implement stringent limitations, as legislated by a few other states, before wakeboats are allowed to operate on Michigan lakes and streams. In view of the physical diversity in the size/shape of Michigan’s 11,000+ waterways, and the strong influence of the recreational boating industry on the Michigan Legislature, where can one begin to address this issue of concern for so many of our members?
While first-person “horror stories” abound about the adverse impact of wakeboats on certain lakes, MLSA has found little to no scientific evidence to make a strong case to establish controls for the use of wakeboats. MLSA also believes the filing of individual damage lawsuits against the irresponsible operators of some wakeboats is problematic and a cumbersome use of the Michigan Judicial System.
After much review and discussion the MLSA Board has decided we need more data to address the many concerns, we have developed a relationship with a scientific organization in Minnesota called, SafeWakes who are working to bring scientific evidence to this issue. MLSA has voted to contribute significant funds on behalf of all inland lakes and waterways in Michigan!
The University of Minnesota’s St. Anthony Falls Laboratory will be conducting the research. This project will measure the height and energy of wakes, and the force of propeller wash generated by wakeboats and other large watercraft. SafeWakes believes this will help build a better understanding of how to best manage and protect our lakes and rivers. This study is not being funded by state or federal dollars, but by individuals, lake associations, and other interested stakeholders.
Please consider making a contribution to this privately funded research project: https://crowdfund.umn.edu/WakeStudy
For more information about this project, you may wish to review this document: St. Anthony Falls Laboratory Wake and Prop Wash Study
Through the years MLSA has set aside funding for special projects that require substantial support. Although the fund is limited, MLSA has sent $10,000 to partially pay for this important study that will cost about $100,000 in total. It was the least we could do to help protect the over 10,000 lakes and streams in Michigan.