About Responsible Wakes

Enjoying water sports on Lake Fairlee.

Responsible Wakes for Vermont Lakes (RWVL) is a collaborative group of citizens from across Vermont who began working together in March of 2021 based on a collective concern about the adverse effects of wakeboats on Vermont lakes and ponds. Our group represents individuals from lakes and ponds with a full range of water-based recreational interests.

RWVL petitioned Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources to adopt a rule to manage wakesports on Vermont waters. This website introduces you to the reasons for our petition, the science that supports it, and the economic impact of the proposed rule, and our progress so far.

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) drafted a rule in response to our petition. The DEC conducted three pre-rulemaking meetings in 2022 and 2023 to receive comments on their draft rule. Comments overwhelmingly favored the rule, and most asked for it to be strengthened. A final public hearing on the proposed rule was conducted in August 2023, where again, the written and oral comments overwhelmingly favored a stronger rule by 10-to-1.

While RWVL applauds the Department of Environmental Conservation for its work to advance a wakeboat rule, and for adding a provision to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, we would like to see their proposed rule made stronger. Their current proposal does not fully achieve our goals — and the Agency’s responsibility — to protect Vermont’s lakes and lake users both today and into the future. The rule should go further to better protect Vermont’s most vulnerable lakes from the present and future damage and dangers of wake sports.

The original petition from the RWVL called for wakeboats to operate no closer than 1000 feet from shore, in water at least 20 feet deep, in an area of 60 or more contiguous acres that meets these conditions. These parameters are supported by scientific research and by the reality of life on Vermont lakes where wakeboats have already appeared. 

The rule proposed by DEC reduces the distance from 1000 to 500 feet, and reduces the area from 60 to 50 contiguous acres. The DEC’s draft rule would not go far enough to adequately protect Vermont’s lakes and ponds from damage caused by wakeboats.  It would allow wake sports on many lakes and ponds too small to accommodate them safely. RWVL has compiled a list showing how each lake would be affected with shoreline offsets of 1000 and 500 feet.

500 Feet is Not Enough – RWVL Position Paper

Following the end of the ANR Petition process on August 10, RWVL sent this letter to ANR Secretary Julie Moore summarizing our reasons for why a stronger Use of Public Waters Rules for wake boats, i.e., greater than 1,000-feet from shore for wake boat activities, is needed:

If you would like to stay informed of the rule making progress, please go to our News page and sign up to receive our newsletters by email.

Contact RWVL at info@responsiblewakes.org

RWVL Picture Story Book

Wake Boats Educational Handout

Please Note: While the RWVL will periodically update and verify the links on this page, the RWVL is not responsible for the day-to-day functionality of the links. The RWVL is also not responsible for the content or accuracy of any non-RWVL links. Posting of hyperlinks does not signify endorsement by RWVL nor responsibility for hyperlink contents nor for any associated organizations.

RWVL will only use the information you send us here to send you news about Responsible Wakes for Vermont Lakes. We never share this information with anyone else. You may unsubscribe at any time.