Status of Vermont’s New Wake Sports Rule Rollout

Memorial Day weekend is here. This signals the start of another fun Vermont water recreation season. New this summer — wake boat owners are required to follow recently enacted wake boat use rules governing wake boat activities on Vermont’s inland lakes and ponds. (Find more information at this Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) LINK.)

Implementing some of the rule’s provisions will require a major effort on the part of the DEC. Tasks to be implemented include: 

  • Determine the best way to involve the Vermont Public Access Greeter Program, whose members will be asked to take on a larger role in preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) through wake boat inspections and education of boat owners. 
  • Add “Wake Boat Permitted or Prohibited” signage and wake boat educational information to State boat launch areas and kiosks 
  • Create awareness of the available DEC Avenza mobile phone map app that while on the water displays a lake user’s location, inside or outside of a Wake Sports Zone, for all 30 Vermont lakes permitting wake sports
  • Identify certified wake boat decontamination stations throughout the state for decontamination before a wake boat enters a new lake as required by the Home Lake Rule to avoid the potential spread of AIS via wake boat ballast tanks that cannot be completely emptied. 
  • Prepare a public reporting process to receive and manage public observations and comments on the new rule’s effect on Vermont’s lakes and ponds. As with most Use of Public Waters Rules, the State Police Marine Division and the game wardens are responsible for rule enforcement. However, it is typically members of the public who first observe infractions; public reporting will be important in assessing the new rule’s effectiveness. The DEC understands that setting up this system is particularly important during this first summer of implementation so that improvements to and modifications of management procedures can be made.

Based on information that our Responsible Wakes for Vermont Lakes (RWVL) group has gathered and from recent news reports (see below), many of the DEC’s plans to implement the above tasks have yet to be finalized. For example, the DEC has already announced postponing the Home Lake “sticker program” will be put off this year. And the DEC has acknowledged that, with no funding or extra personnel available to assist, its capacity to accomplish all rule requirements during the initial year rollout will be limited. 

An update on the status of the rollout was provided by Laura Dulgolecki, Lakes Regulatory Expert and Environmental Analyst, during a 1-hour webinar hosted by the Federation of Vermont Lakes and Ponds (FOVLAP) entitled “Vermont’s Wake Sports Rule—First in the Nation,” which the public is encouraged to view. The next rule status update is expected to be included as part of FOVLAP’s 2024 Lake Seminar on June 7 at 11:40 AM, with Laura leading the segment entitled, “Lakes and Ponds Updates.”  In the meantime, RWVL asks for the public’s patience, understanding, and suggestions as the new rule gets implemented.

While RWVL views the ANR enactment of the new wake sports rule as a major accomplishment, what happens this summer will determine our next steps to achieve a stronger rule. In keeping with our goal of protecting Vermont’s lakes and ponds, RWVL is eager to assist individuals, lake associations, municipalities, and others — including the DEC — with the rollout of the new 2024 rule. Please contact us by email ( if you have questions, comments, or would like help.

Links to recent Vermont news media reports of the ANR’s new wake sports rule

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