An outdoors organization concerned about wake boat mode operations

By Paul J Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director

This Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) is the largest statewide conservation organization in the nation. Founded in 1937, their mission is to unite citizens to conserve, protect and enhance Michigan’s natural resources and outdoor heritage. With over 40,000 members MUCC has significant influence in Lansing and with the Michigan Natural Resource Commission (NRC).

Back in 2013, MUCC passed a Policy Resolution entitled “Establish Regulations on the Operation of Wake Boats” stating specifications concerning the size of the lake (2,000 acres) and recommended distance from shore (1000 feet) for safe operation of watercraft in wake boat mode. However, the resolution did not have substantiating scientific analysis to buttress the otherwise rational conclusions.

In September 2022, the forty member MUCC Policy Board passed a resolution about wake boat mode operations which is headed to the floor at their 2023 Annual Convention for consideration by their membership. This new proposed resolution contains data from the wake research conducted by the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory of the University of Minnesota (Note: MLSA and many readers have helped fund that research). The proposal also cites laws enacted in Wisconsin, as well as sales data for watercraft showing the stunning increase in the proliferation of wake boats. One part of the proposal also contains the following significant observation: “WHEREAS: the creation of these waves is not compatible to other boating activities (paddle board kayak, sailboat) and the reverse is not true…”

The proposed resolution finally resolves as follows: ”…that MUCC advocate for the elimination of these craft from vulnerable waters and limit their use to depths of greater than 20 feet and further from shorelines, docks, and other riparian uses to greater than 500 feet.” So, the MUCC proposed, full membership resolution is using science and other new facts to scale back the concerns they had dating back to 2013. However, the proposed policy is still riparian friendly.

It is clear that MLSA is not alone in its concerns about the appropriate regulation (but not a total ban) of wake boat mode operations. At this point, we all have to wait for the results of the 2022 elections in the newly drawn Michigan Senate and Representative Districts. We then have to wait and learn who will be the members and chair for the many committees that can initiate legislation. We also need to find other organizations like MUCC who share are legitimate concerns in this area. 2023 might be the year for meaningful legislation to address what is happening on so many Michigan inland lakes.

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