LCAR Approves First in the Nation Rule to Manage Wake Boats/Sports in Vermont

With help from and the inspiration of you our supporters, Responsible Wakes for Vermont Lakes (RWVL) has taken its first big step forward. On Thursday, February 14, the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (LCAR) met for a third and final time and voted to approve ANR’s rule to manage wake boats and wake sports on Vermont’s inland lakes and ponds (23-P17 – Agency of Natural Resources/Vermont Use of Public Waters Rules). Click here to see the 20-minute discussion and vote (from 8:30 to 29:00 in the video).

Under the new regulations, wake boats in wake sport mode are prohibited on 43 of Vermont’s 73 lakes.  On the remaining 30, operation in the wake sport mode is permitted within a wake zone, which is at least 50 contiguous acres that are 500 feet from shore on all sides and 20 feet deep. The Home Lake provision in the regulations stipulates that a wake boat owner must declare a “home” lake each year and requires approved decontamination of ballast tanks at a state approved facility each time the boat is moved from one body of water to another. The ANR assured LCAR that the rule will be in place for the 2024 boating season.

While our RWVL team is profoundly disappointed that ANR significantly reduced the minimum distance from shore requested in our original petition, we are heartened that we will not have to wait another year for regulation. And we are pleased to have been able to secure two major concessions to the rule initially filed by ANR. The first expands the definition of wake boat to include, in addition to ballast tanks, other unspecified features designed to enhance a boat’s wake. The second is agreement by ANR that wake boats in wake sports mode are NOT a “normal use” as defined in the Use of Public Waters Rules Section 5.6 (“’Normal use’ means any lawful use of any specific body of public water that occurred on a regular, frequent, and consistent basis prior to January 1, 1993”). This latter clarification will be absolutely critical as individual lakes begin the petitioning process to prohibit wake sports from their waters.

Prior to voting on the rule, LCAR members were given the opportunity to share their personal comments. Their comments demonstrated a keen understanding of the issues. It is notable that most expressed concerns about the inadequacy of the rule and acknowledged there will likely be both a need and interest in future legislation around wake boats and wake sports on Vermont’s inland lakes and ponds.

While RWVL wishes our work were completed, clearly it is not, when 30 of Vermont’s cleanest and most beautiful lakes remain threatened. After we have a chance to assess where we are and where we need to be, we will begin the process of working with lake associations and other groups as they draft individual petitions to prohibit wake sports from their lakes. In the meantime, we will start to explore how we might initiate and support groundbreaking legislation regulating wake sports.

As states across the country struggle to manage the threat wake sports pose to other users and to the environment, we pause long enough to celebrate this RWVL victory. Thanks to all of our incredible RWVL supporters!


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