We understand that many Responsible Wakes supporters are angry and profoundly disappointed with the final rule ANR has submitted for consideration by the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (LCAR). We feel the same. As always, we have turned to each other as well as to many of you for guidance on what to do next. We have reached out to experts and talked with countless people and organizations locally and across the country.
LCAR members and guests at their Jan 4 meeting.
After serious consideration, here are our conclusions:
- It is fruitless to continue banging our heads against the wall during the rulemaking process. We are done. Hard as it is to swallow, we have reached the end of our journey to convince ANR of the need for a stronger rule. The truth is that the administration is resistant to any rule that goes beyond the current 500 feet. Despite unprecedented public support for a strong rule and the science to justify it, we have reluctantly come to accept that ANR will not budge further. Many tell us it is frankly incredible that we were able to get as much as we have from this administration.
- RWVL has NOT given up seeking a strong rule for managing wake boats. We are still here for you! We are moving on and will continue the fight by supporting individual lake petitions and by seeking future legislative action. Stronger regulation is essential; we will continue to work to achieve it.
- LCAR is not the place to fight for a better rule, especially if our goal is to have a rule in place to protect our lakes this summer. We know there are ongoing efforts by others to generate a large turnout at the LCAR meeting on February 1. Showing up in large numbers at LCAR will not help and may actually hurt our cause by delaying action on the adoption of a rule for this summer. LCAR members are keenly aware of the overwhelming public support for a stronger rule based on the incredible volume and substance of the public comments submitted during the rulemaking process. We are working to secure two modifications to ANR’s rule: First, to remove ANR’s attempt to accept wake surfing as a “normal use” as defined in the Use of Public Waters Rules, and second, to expand the definition of wake boats to include the term “design features.”
- Our present goal is to ensure a rule is adopted swiftly so that it can be implemented this year. Were LCAR to push too hard, this effort is likely to backfire with ANR simply shelving their rule “for further research” or with a process so delayed ANR is unable to have a rule in place for this coming summer. We have heard from some who think that having no rule in place is better than having the current ANR rule. If this happens, there is no guarantee of a better rule – at least from ANR – in the future. The longer wake boats remain unregulated, the greater their numbers and the more entrenched they will become. The advice we hear consistently from most of our supporters and from other states is “DO SOMETHING NOW! Waiting will only make the problem worse.”
What can you do to help now?
- Please DO NOT attend the LCAR meeting in person. We know you want to be there to support strong regulation and to register your anger and disappointment with ANR’s rule. But the most important thing now is to get a rule in place this summer. To accomplish that, LCAR must approve what ANR has sent (hopefully, with the two modifications discussed above). If too many people show up to speak, LCAR may extend the hearing over several weeks, ruining the chance of getting a rule in place this summer. Delay is not in our best interest. Please do notshow up and risk delaying this ANR Petition process!
- Please DO watch the hearing online via YouTube. The meeting is scheduled for 8:00 am on Thursday, February 1. Here is the YouTube channel the live feed link to view LCAR meeting on Thursday: http://www.youtube.com/@VTLegJointCommittees. (Note: The wake boat discussion, “23-P17 – Agency of Natural Resources/Vermont Use of Public Waters Rules,” is 2nd up on LCAR’s Feb 1 schedule and set to begin at 8:25 AM.)
- Please DO NOT take any further action until we can assess the situation after the LCAR meeting. We have begun communicating with individual LCAR members in advance of the meeting. In the future, depending on how things go, we might come back to ask that you write to legislators in your district. What happens at LCAR will determine our next steps.
Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over” when his team was behind in baseball’s 1973 National League pennant race. The team rallied to win the title that season.
Please hang in there with us!